PETALING JAYA: An association representing more than 200 shopping malls in the country has hailed Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad’s statement that there is no restriction on the use of pig images in public places for the coming Chinese New Year festivities.
Speaking to FMT, Malaysia Shopping Malls Association adviser Chan Hoi Choy said Khalid’s remarks reflected the civility of the “new Malaysia”.
Nevertheless, he told FMT, members of his association would maintain respect for cultural sensitivities and “adopt a middle ground” in the choice of themes for all festive decorations.
Chan, who is chief executive of Sunway Malls and Theme Parks, acknowledged that members of the Chinese community generally favoured the use of the appropriate zodiac sign in welcoming each new year, but he said “it’s not always necessary”.
For the coming celebration, he said, “the use of other cultural elements is widespread”.
He spoke of “out-of-the-box creativity” in determining decoration themes and gave the example of Sunway Malls’ decision to pay tribute to the five Chinese clans to which 90% of the Malaysian Chinese community belong.
Malaysia Budget Hotel Association president PK Leong also welcomed Khalid’s statement.
“But hotels usually avoid using pig or dog images in any case as we respect the sensitivities of the people,” he told FMT.
“I hope, however, that over time the public will overcome the misconception that the use of pig images in any way promotes the consumption of pork,” he said. “In Chinese culture, the zodiac animals are merely symbolic of the energy of the year.”
The Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to each year in a 12-year cycle. This year, it is the turn of the pig.
Khalid earlier told FMT that there had been no directive to ban the image of the pig in public places during the coming celebrations.
“Are pictures of pigs also haram?” he said in a wry response when asked whether the government would ban images of the animal to respect the Malay taboo.
A quick check by FMT of shopping malls in the Klang Valley found that the pig is conspicuously absent from Chinese New Year decorations.