In Malaysia, a nation ruled by race-based politics, it’s easy to forget that most of our countrymen are actually pretty cool people who are tolerant and understanding of each other’s cultures. We celebrate Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Diwali and other festive seasons together, donning traditional garments as if we are all part of one big family. We feast together and we damn well get pissed off together when our southern neighbour starts claiming our dishes as their own. From time to time, certain parties might make ridiculous assumptions and accusations – such as demanding the removal of CNY decorations at a school – but the vast majority of Malaysians see past such paranoia. There’ll always be those who live in a bubble and in fear of the unknown, but that’s onus is on us – the woke demographic of the population – to educate them.
However, that wasn’t the case with Alice Jong Liz’s recent post of her fiancé that went viral. In the post, Alice explained that as a Muslim she and her family also celebrates CNY, going further she said, “Schools that choose to celebrate Chinese New Year and put up lanterns are not at fault, as this will only benefit students by allowing them to know that this is part of Chinese New Year custom.” She also explained the meaning of 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Chai), which means, in Malay, pemudahan rezeki kewangan – hoping that the person you wish it to obtains wealth. Now what’s so religiously conflicting about that?
It would seem like Alice was trying to bring awareness to the issue as she also shared a bunch of other photos showing her and her fiancé’s family having reunion dinner amongst other CNY-themed pics. But according to the lady herself, she was just sharing her love for the many cultures that thrive in Malaysia. JUICE had a quick chat with Alice to find out more…
So where do you come from?
I’m from Selangor.
Oh we thought you were from Kuching?
No, I think many people were confused because I posted the picture of my fiancé – he is from Kuching, Sarawak. He’s Chinese Hakka and I am Baba-Nyonya. We are both Muslim.
Was Chinese culture taught to you at home?
It was taught to me in school as I went to a Chinese school. Although, personally, I have a strong connection to Chinese culture being Baba-Nyonya.
Were your recent CNY-themed posts an attempt to comment on the issue of Muslims not being allowed to celebrate CNY or the school that was forced to take down their CNY decorations?
Far from it. I don’t only share photos of us celebrating Chinese culture, but also Hari Raya, Christmas, New Year and Diwali.
So there was nothing political motivating your posts?
No, I didn’t think about it. I just love celebrating all the festive holidays of Malaysia.
We do too!
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