PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Idris Ahmad has been slammed for advising Muslims not to participate in the Bon Odori festival.
Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) councillor Muhammad Shakir Ameer said that such a statement showed the lack of understanding and ignorance on cultural diversity in the country.
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"Like most cultural celebrations, there will be commercialisation and it will likely be tweaked to cater to the general audience as well.
"We witness this from Hari Raya to Christmas every year," he said in a statement on Tuesday (June 7).
On Monday (June 6), the minister, who is from PAS, had advised Muslims not to participate in the Bon Odori festival to be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16 as the festival contains elements of other religions.
Shakir added that the Bon Odori festival has been celebrated for more than 30 years in Malaysia.
"Throughout the years, it has been commercialised and celebrated via commercial or community centres to cater to non-Japanese as well.
"From my understanding, the main attraction is the musical elements such as the dance and the drums. It has to be understood that this celebration has been going on for more than 30 years.
"Why does it have to become an issue now?" he asked.
"This is why a party like PAS shouldn't be given the chance to administer the country again.
"They will ruin the social fabric of the country and ban every cultural celebration as they please while judging others. What they are doing now is just the beginning," said Shakir.
He said there is a sizable number of Japanese expatriates living in Malaysia, adding that it was only natural that they would celebrate their cultural celebrations through their community clubs or associations.
"Muslims should be given the chance to evaluate for themselves the various cultural celebrations in a very diverse Malaysia. We cannot allow opinions from PAS leaders to deny Malaysians from embracing cultural diversity," he added.