Lion dance troupe leader: We don’t dance to political tune

dragondance1KUALA LUMPUR: The lion dance is a traditional dance in Chinese culture, and a symbol of good luck and prosperity. It is not a tool to pursue anyone’s political agenda, founder of Malaysia Gao Feng Lion and Dragon Dance Athletic Association Yong Kheng Chien said today.

The performance by Yong’s lion dance group at the Gerakan party Chinese New Year open house on Saturday went viral on social media. The 45-second video clip showed a lion crouching and seemingly “refusing” to perform before Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and other VIPs.

The short clip which showed only part of the whole performance had been twisted and misinterpreted by certain quarters aligned to the opposition, as well as by many users on social media.

“We are aggrieved that our performance was ridiculed. Some of the comments were also uncalled for.

“We do not want to get involved in any political agenda and we are not politically linked to any parties. We are professionals,” Yong said in a press conference held at Menara PGRM in Cheras today.

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He explained that the lion in front of Najib was crouching as the performer was still peeling the pomelo and oranges to present it to the prime minister and his wife as a symbol of blessing and prosperity.

He added that under normal circumstances, the routine of peeling oranges and pomelo would usually take about three to eight minutes.

“But during the pre-event discussion, organisers had requested for the session to be reduced below two minutes which we obliged,” Yong said.

Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang in his Facebook posting on Tuesday said it was a Chinese New Year tradition that the lion dance performer present a pomelo and oranges to the special guest as a sign of prosperity.

“It is unfortunate that some irresponsible people chose to twist and fabricate lies towards the professional lion dancers, who had given a great performance,” he said, adding that Najib had even praised the performance on his Facebook account.

Tan claimed that those who were pro-opposition who could not understand the Chinese tradition during the lion dance performance should not “try to tarnish and insult the tradition”.

Yong said the whole lion dance performance took about 10 minutes.

Yong was accompanied by the performer who performed in front of Najib that day, Ching Linn Kee, 25 at the press conference.

Also present was the troupe coaches and representative.

Ching who has been doing the lion dance for the past nine years said he was frustrated over how the performance was twisted.

“I knew about it through social media and my coach. I was not disrespecting anyone. I was peeling the pomelos and oranges,” Ching said.

Meanwhile, Yong said he hoped the public will have a clearer picture of what really happened.

“We are not anti-government. The lion dance should not be used to divide but to unite our great nation. Anyone who wants to invite us, we will take it because we are professionals,” he added.

The lion dance association was founded by Yong in 1995. The Malacca-based association has about 200 members with branches in Johor, Kedah and Penang.