KLANG: Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has instructed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to not in any way obstruct the Japanese Bon Odori Festival from being held next month.
Jais director Datuk Shahzihan Ahmad said in a statement that Sultan Sharafuddin had also ordered the state Islamic affairs department not to prevent any individuals from attending it.
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"His Royal Highness Tuanku is not in favour of any decisions hastily taken without in-depth study and perusal.
"His Royal Highness is of the opinion that many cultures have links with religion but religion is not necessarily present in cultures," added Shahzihan.
According to Shahzihan, he received the instructions directly from Sultan Sharafuddin after being summoned for an audience at Istana Bukit Kayangan on Wednesday (June 8) afternoon.
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Shahzihan said the Ruler had attended the Bon Odori celebrations several years ago and did not see anything that could tarnish the faith of Muslims as it was merely a social programme intended for employees of industries belonging to the many Japanese-owned companies in Selangor.
"His Royal Highness sternly stated that watching something differed from practising it.
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"His Highness was also not worried as if the faith of Muslims were strong and true, it will sidestep any conviction and practice that was contradictory to the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jaamah creed," he added.
Shahzihan said in order to make a fair decision on the status of the Bon Odori festival, given Selangor's multi-cultural community and facet, Sultan Sharafuddin has also directed for the matter to be handled fairly and justly.
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Given this, the Ruler has directed Jais and Shah Alam City Hall officers to attend the Bon Odori Festival to observe for themselves what happens there, said Shahzihan.
The Bon Odori Festival is scheduled to be held at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16.
The event has been held here for decades in line with Malaysia's Look East Policy as well as to create a platform of goodwill between Malaysians and the many Japanese businesses that had heavily invested in Selangor.
Everything had gone without a glitch until recently when the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of religious affairs Datuk Idris Ahmad dropped a bombshell that Bon Odori had elements of another religion.
The PAS vice-president had added that Muslims must not attend the Bon Odori Festival because of this.