In CNY message, ex-minister recalls making lanterns without any fuss

The Puchong school’s lanterns for Chinese New Year led to accusations that these were ‘religious decorations’.

PETALING JAYA: A former federal minister said the recent controversy sparked after Chinese New Year decorations were put up at a secondary school in Puchong should not have been an issue in the first place.

Recalling her days as a student, Nancy Shukri said she and her classmates used to make lanterns out of red cardboard with a stapler during art class a week before Chinese New Year.

Many of the students’ lanterns, the Batang Sadong MP said, would be displayed in classes and later brought home.

Former minister Nancy Shukri says she and her classmates used to make lanterns a week before Chinese New Year.

“It was never an issue, even for our parents. Our families knew it was important for us to foster unity by understanding and participating in the cultural events of others,” she said in her Chinese New Year message.

As a racially-diverse state, the people of Sarawak, Nancy said, have been celebrating each other’s traditions together for decades.

Earlier this month, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz threatened to report SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong I over its supposedly “religious” decorations.

Khairul, who is also a lawyer, said the decorations were “unconstitutional” and alleged that Muslim parents had complained against what they deemed to be an attempt to propagate a religion other than Islam to students.

This led to several Cabinet ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, visiting the school, in a move that Nancy said had swiftly put the matter to rest.

“So, while the issue was quickly resolved, this should not have become an issue in the first place.”

Nancy said that having achieved so much unity in Sarawak, one must not take it for granted.

Sarawak, she added, is a unique place where all, regardless of race or religion, can prosper.

It is the duty of Sarawakians to keep it that way and not let outside influence creep in with their twisted ideology with words like “pendatang” — a slur often directed at minorities — that seemed to crop up every now and then.

“It is out of place here because we are all equal, regardless of race or religion.”