PETALING JAYA: Several Pakatan Harapan lawmakers have slammed Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) for allegedly threatening a school in Puchong to take down its Chinese New Year decorations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah pointed out that Chinese New Year has nothing to do with religion.
"Among (Malaysia's) strengths is its people - diverse in race, culture and religion, living in peace and harmony.
"This needs to be strengthened in the spirit of peaceful coexistence," he tweeted.
The Indera Mahkota MP noted that Malaysians have been celebrating together for decades, and the tradition must continue.
Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching noted that it does not make a Malay 'less Malay' or an Indian 'less Indian' if they celebrate Chinese New Year in the spirit of muhibbah (goodwill).
She also pointed out that similarly, learning Jawi calligraphy would not cause non-Muslim students to convert to Islam.
"The Jawi calligraphy is a national treasure, while Chinese New Year is a cultural celebration. Both are different but they share the same route - the colour of multiracial," she wrote in her Facebook page.
Teo also called on Malaysians to respect each other and not let the diversity cause dispute.
It was reported that Putra vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz had described the decorations as being "unconstitutional", claiming that Muslim parents had complained against what they saw as an attempt to propagate a non-Islam religion to students in the SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong 1 in Pusat Bandar Puchong.
"The complaints we've received show unease at the excessive Chinese New Year 2020 decorations in your school. Some parents say the school looks like a Chinese-owned market with religious elements on display that are other than Islam," he was reported saying.
In addition, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh questioned Putra's "incomprehensible and downright illogical" statement.
He noted that based on "Putra's twisted logic", all Chinese New Year decorations across the country would have to be taken down for purportedly being unconstitutional.
"Firstly, to my knowledge, there has been no judicial pronouncement that any festive decorations in any public place, be it for Hari Raya, CNY or Deepavali or any other festive occasion, is unconstitutional," he said in a statement.
He also pointed out that there can be no question of such decorations requiring anyone to take part in any religious ceremony or worship any religion other than one's own in contravention of Article 12(3) of the Constitution.
"I have yet to hear of anyone forcing their religion upon anyone else on such festive occasions, and I highly doubt that the said decorations contain any religious elements and were merely decorative in nature," he noted.
Ramkarpal also called on the Education Ministry to launch an inquiry into the matter.
"It is time for us to build bridges between races in this country at a time when racial tensions seem to be at an all time high.
"We would be regressing if action is not taken swiftly," he added.