Archive for the ‘Celebrating Diversity’ Category

Malaysia’s political crisis is not unique

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Pakatan Harapan leaders with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PIC FROM LIEW CHIN TONG’S FACEBOOK

A GOVERNMENT gridlock is not a sign of crisis nor a cause for panic. If anything, it is a sign that the legislative branch is functioning well where it does not act as a rubber stamp for the executive.

From the United States Capitol in Washington to the Bundestag in Germany, an impasse is a mark of a functioning legislative assembly that highlights French philosopher, Montesquieu’s separation of powers.

Such is the case for Malaysia, where no absolute power rests with the executive, the legislature nor the judiciary. Parliament, which represents the legislative branch of our nation, is further divided into three main arms, i.e. Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Dewan Negara and the Dewan Rakyat.

The main purpose of dividing the legislative branch into three different sections is to control one’s power. Thanks to Montesquieu, the concentration of power within one singular entity, either the legislature or executive became anathema to modern democracies.

His ideas were echoed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German philosopher who witnessed the ups and downs of the French Revolution. He later elaborated on Montesquieu’s idea of constitutional monarchy. Hegel went on to predict that one of the characteristics of a modern state is to have a constitutional sovereign that would depoliticise the final power of decision.

As such, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s action to summon individual members of parliament (and if he had convened the Conference of Rulers) recently is an example of a working, functioning Westminster system.

It might be extraordinary to us, but he is merely exercising his role as stipulated within the Constitution. To put it bluntly, we are witnessing a fail-safe mechanism as envisioned by Hegel in action when the legislature was hit by an impasse to form the executive branch.

Malaysia’s crisis is not unique. As recent as last year, King Felipe VI of Spain similarly had to call for the MPs to sit down together because of a government impasse. King Philippe of Belgium had to do the same in 2011 and 2018.

Diplomat and statesman Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord once argued that the excesses of demagoguery could be balanced by a constitutional monarch. He can’t be far from the truth. Not unlike their British counterparts, our civil service, too, answers to the Crown. That explains why our official documents come in envelopes marked “Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda”.

Because they are answerable to the Crown, the civil service will continue running, regardless of who is in power. This means that law and order would remain intact in the land.

As Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali demonstrated in his Facebook account — it is business as usual for the government machinery. Malaysians tend to use hyperbole in politics, where the words “state collapse”, “failed state” and “democracy is dead” are used often without understanding that they evoke chaos and anarchy to observers.

Sure, we have room for improvement but that does not mean democracy is dead nor that our state has failed.

A number of us might be fed up with politics and politicians, but one must not forget that it is democracy that gives us the room to replace these politicians we love to hate.

If anything, the impasse is a sign that our country is evolving into a mature democracy.

Perhaps, Churchill said it best: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

BSyed Nizamuddin Sayed Khassim

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What does it take for citizens to be happy with their country?

Monday, March 2nd, 2020
(file pix) Malaysia is ranked the 80th happiest nation in 2019, a drop of 45 places compared with 2018 when it was ranked 35th. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is ranked fourth behind Singapore (34th), Thailand (52nd) and the Philippines (69th). NSTP

THERE’S lesson to learn from the kindness and generosity shown by Malaysians at Istana Negara’s front entrance over the past week.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah showed how Malaysians can be compassionate and altruistic when he distributed fast-food and beverages to media practitioners at the palace gate.

We are not witnessing the same compassion in politicians who are muddled in an endless power struggle. Although it is unfair to equate the king’s and other Malaysians’ generosity with politicians’ behaviour, it is clear politicians have not shown a speck of compassion and kindness to each other lately.

The political turmoil has caused immense unhappiness to people from all walks of life. Worsened by the outbreak of Covid-19, the turmoil affects the economy, especially the financial market. It is also leaving emotional scars on a society that has now become fractious.

Just look at social media where there’s bad blood between the people. We can’t deny that many of us online can’t help but take sides and become adversaries — largely because of different political beliefs. But some quarters in society are beyond reason and convention. They are overly antagonistic to each other and shoot their mouths off when they read something they don’t like.

Take a close look at this nation, a melting pot of races, cultural and religious beliefs. She is a promised land with a promising future. But look closely at us, the people with that cantankerous conduct. Rubbing salt into the wound, average Malaysians are unhappy about the economy, with scarce job opportunities and prices of essentials going up.

The people are sad, angry and disappointed with what’s unfolding. They are concerned about the future of this nation if the problems are not quickly resolved. We will lose a considerable amount of time to see that the country moves in the right direction if politicians continue their incessant bickering.

You know, we can learn a lot from Nordic countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. One common thing these countries share is they are happy nations with happy citizens.

The World Happiness Report has shown that from 2012, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland consistently ranked the happiest countries. Finland ranked first for two consecutive years in 2019 and 2018. Norway was the happiest country in 2017 while Denmark made its mark twice in 2013 and 2016.

The report indicated Nordic countries ranked so high on the happiness hierarchy because they have political stability and prosperity, free education and healthcare, low crime rates, cushy social security nets and a relatively homogeneous population.

Malaysia is ranked the 80th happiest nation in 2019, a drop of 45 places compared with 2018 when it was ranked 35th. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is ranked fourth behind Singapore (34th), Thailand (52nd) and the Philippines (69th).

What does it take for citizens to be happy with their country? Researchers of the report say happiness is the sheer feeling of satisfaction with the way one’s life is going. They use variables such as GDP per person, social support, healthy-life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, free from corruption, among others. They also look into how happiness has evolved over the years with a focus on technological advancements, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes.

That’s why it’s vital for all of us to boost efforts to pursue happiness.

By Rohiman Haroon.

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Unity can be achieved with mutual respect

Saturday, February 1st, 2020
Pix for illustration purposes only.

LETTERS: IT is not uncommon nowadays to be able to order tomyam at the mamak shop. The cooks are not mamak but they are from southern Thailand or locals.

Mamak food is still dominant, otherwise it would not be a mamak shop! What is interesting, though, is the entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by the restaurant operators.

Instead of treating tomyam dishes as a threat, these operators turn the dishes to opportunities and partner with the cooks, creating a win-win situation by capturing another market segment that would have otherwise gone elsewhere.

Marrying the two rather distinct tastes under one roof is a brilliant idea. We certainly can learn a thing or two from this entrepreneurial spirit.

Despite the stark differences between the two dishes, both coexist under one roof peacefully.

On the same note, can we achieve this in our beloved country? A tall order, some will say. It is a delicate issue with some pointing to the education system as a hindrance.

I think that fluency in Bahasa Malaysia must be one of the key unifying factors.

Coming back to business strategy, many Chinese-owned businesses are good at turning differences to opportunities, where products or services are offered to the Malays, who make up a large customer base.

Our neighbour, Thailand, is another example. It leads the way in capitalising the halal market even though the majority of Thais are non-Muslims.

If you are a non-Muslim Malaysian, you can’t run away from dealing with Islam and the Muslims. After all, Islam is the religion of the federation.

If we are serious about the future of this country, we must learn to embrace our differences while maintaining mutual respect for each other.

Perceived threats and differences should be turned to opportunities to promote harmony and wellbeing in our society.

Reciprocity is key. There must be proactive actions from all sides to reach out to those of a different religion or ethnicity. There must not be a winner-take-all or kiasu mentality if we are to progress as a nation.

And, in a turbulent world with many uncertainties, Malaysia can be a model of harmonious nation for other countries to emulate, if it is not one already.


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Mutual respect, goodwill and Islam

Saturday, January 25th, 2020
Family members and friends tossing yee sang in conjunction with Chinese New Year in Ipoh.NSTP/ABDULLAH YUSOF

LETTERS: IT is clearly stated in the Constitution that Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and there is no restriction in the practice of other religions.

The tenets of the Constitution reflect a tolerant attitude and respect among the adherents of different religions.

While Islam does not condone inter-religion mobility, it nevertheless adheres to the principles of co-existence and non-discrimination.

There is no forced proselytisation or persecution in attracting people to the faith, only through the demonstration of deeds and an ethical and moral way of living.

Islam promotes harmonious interactions among its believers and adherents of other faiths through mutual respect and goodwill, as well as by providing facilities for places of worship in recognition of the right to practise one’s faith.

This is evident in Malaysia where mosques, churches, Hindu temples and Chinese temples adorn the landscape of this country.As such, the rituals of worship and their celebrations are part of the gamut of Malaysian life.

Although the rituals of worship are restricted to its own adherents, there is no constraint in sharing the celebratory joys of another’s religion.

Thus, the opposition to the celebration of Ponggal and the hanging of Chinese lanterns in schools are not in line with the Islamic concept of Muhibbah.

It is trite to assume that participating in such activities would adversely affect one’s faith.

Far from being an attempt to proselytise, they create awareness of the cultural practices of people of other faiths.

We should, therefore, not allow bigots to create suspicion and dissension among the people.

Wishing all our Chinese friends Gong Xi Fa Cai.


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NST Leader:Celebrating our diversity

Saturday, January 25th, 2020
Bask in our differences-our diverseness should unite, not divide us. NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

MORE than a billion in China and millions around the world celebrate the Chinese New Year today, ushering in the Year of the Metal Rat with prayers and feasts.

It is the most important holiday of the Chinese calendar, which marks the beginning of the new lunar year.

Also known as the Spring Festival, it’s considered a time to honour deities and ancestors, and to be with family.

The event always sparks a rush of travel, which the New York Times has dubbed ‘the world’s largest annual human migration’.

Understandably, fears of a viral pandemic have cast a pall on celebrations; China has locked down 10 cities hit by a new coronavirus outbreak that has, to date, killed 26 people and infected some 830 others.

For Malaysians, Chinese New Year is an inclusive affair, to be celebrated in true ‘muhibbah’ spirit – a cultural festival that is as embracing of others as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali and Christmas.

Given that a quarter of the population is of Chinese descent, Malaysians from all walks of life and religions joyfully partake of the festive occasion, just as they do during other celebrations.

Such cultural and religious appreciation, which has strengthened the bonds of friendship and enhanced interracial and inter-religious harmony, is a longstanding Malaysian tradition.

We are one of the few countries where people are integrated into one cohesive group in a colourful weave that has been made stronger because of our different backgrounds.

At 56, Malaysia stands tall and proud with more than 15 different races, some 100 languages and at least seven different faiths.

This rich tapestry is Malaysia. We have been celebrating this diversity for so long, learning to respect one another, understanding a culture and revelling in it.

A healthy admiration of the breadth and depth of each culture. A sign of Malaysia’s maturity as a sovereign state.

Economically, Malaysia has seen a meteoric rise in growth over the last couple of decades. Rapid changes in social structures inevitably bring new challenges, especially to a young nation like ours.

Subversive elements are always lurking to undermine our cultural diversity.This Leader will not rant on recent reported incidents which have aroused suspicion, mistrust and hatred in some communities.

Suffice to say that such disruptions we must guard against. We should not allow them to seep into our consciousness and destroy what we have built.

This Leader wants Malaysians to march on and celebrate our diversity. Continue fending off the subversive elements. Bask in our differences – our diverseness should unite, not divide us.

We cannot afford to convulse in a frenzy of racist hatred, reminiscent of the May 13, 1969, racial riots. It would be ashamedly regressive.

Cultural diversity is to be celebrated.

It is the key to getting along with each other. Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and what-have-yous – they are occasions that promote harmony, goodwill and unity.

We have many things to be thankful for. Every celebration is a reminder of what it means to be Malaysian.

This newspaper wishes everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai.

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Prudent start to CNY

Saturday, January 25th, 2020
A woman shopping for Chinese New Year decorations in Kuala Lumpur. -NSTP/Asyraf Hamzah

KUALA LUMPUR: The Chinese New Year celebration appears subdued as most consumers shy away from extravagant spending.

While the festival has always been a boon time for players in the retail and hospitality industries with consumers flooding shopping complexes and retail shops and booking hotels for reunion dinners, it’s quieter this time around.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor Chapter marketing communications consultant and secretary Yvonne Loh said consumers were more prudent as reflected by the low number of bookings for reunion dinners this year.

“Normally, people will book three to four weeks ahead of Chinese New Year. Many hotels complain of poor business. It’s not a good sign. It looks like families are mindful of their spending for CNY this year.

“Not only are hotels feeling the pinch, shopping centres, too, are quieter compared with previous years,” she told the New Straits Times.

Loh said the increase in prices of goods could be one factor.

“Reunion dinners, for example, can be expensive. A table of 10 persons normally starts at RM500.

“It can be costlier as the prices of ingredients such as abalone, oyster and salmon have gone up due to seasonal factors. Suppliers hike the prices to take advantage of the once-in-a-year festive affair.”

MAH Johor Chapter committee member Michael Bay said many Singaporeans and Malaysians working in the nation-state did their festive shopping and preparations in Johor Baru to take advantage of the weakened ringgit.

“Nevertheless, hotel occupancy remains an issue as the industry has to contend with the rise in unregulated short-term accommodations like Airbnb.”

Bay said hotels in Johor Baru were struggling to compete with operators of the food and beverage industry, especially during the festive season.

“There seems to be a drop in the number of in-house dining patrons.”

Bay said hotels need to focus on factors, including pricing, food varieties, taste, presentation and quality, to attract customers to their restaurants.

Puteri Pacific Johor Baru and Persada Johor International Convention Centre marketing manager Lily Othman said hotels in the city were facing stiff competition from restaurants and hipster cafes in terms of bookings for CNY reunion dinners and get-togethers.

“Consumers are not spending less, but they have more options now.

“For this year, we have maintained our buffet prices. Apart from family reunion dinners, we also cater to corporate functions and group bookings.”

By Sarah Rahim.

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Racial unity becoming fragile due to sensational news on social media

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The attitude of some individuals who prefer to read and trust sensational news on social media without verifying their authenticity or truth has contributed to racial unity in the country becoming fragile, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy.

He said the situation was made worse when some people misused the the freedom of speech granted by the government to spread false information to create misunderstanding and tensions among the people of various races in the country.

“Not only in our country, but all over the world, the social media has become a major medium to disseminate news, including false and inaccurate ones.

“Before, the media was controlled by certain groups, but now with the borderless information, some people think that they have the power to disseminate their own personal ideologies and opinions.

“They don’t read many newspapers, or authentic news and books, instead prefer (to read) sensational news. When they are impressed with the news, they will viral it immediately,” he said in a special interview with Bernama in his office here recently.

The minister, who is responsible for the National Unity and Social Wellbeing portfolio, said this group of people had no care to know the news was real or fake.

They are not interested to know the truth, but are happy and more interested to get the sensational news across to netizens, he added.

Waytha Moorthy said some of the issues raised on the social media had undermined the country’s harmony and it had become one of the main challenges facing the Pakatan Harapan government, where precautionary measures had been taken to safeguard the interests of all parties.

The minister also expressed his sadness over the action of previous government leaders for deliberately raising certain issues to build up anger against the current government for their own political survival.

“Therefore, it is the responsibility of the people to remain focus and to live as citizens who practice diversity in a pluralistic society. We have to live with each other and as long as we are focused, we can accept what we have practiced before,” he said. –Bernama

The issue on abuse of the social media was also raised by AirAsia Group Bhd chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes on Tuesday, saying too many negative things, falsities and outrages on the platform had led to the shutting down of his Twitter account.

Commenting further, Waytha Moorthy said the people, especially those in the peninsula, should emulate the close relationships and tolerance of the various tribes in Sabah and Sarawak, enabling them to live in harmony without suspicion for one another.

He recalled his visit to Sarawak and Sabah and was impressed with the understanding and respect for the religious practices and cultural diversity displayed among the people of the two states.

He said the ministry would take into account suggestions from community leaders in Sabah and Sarawak in formulating a new policy to enhance national integration between the people in the peninsula and East Malaysia.

In addressing racial and religious issues, he said the ministry hoped to set up a special commission known as the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission to act as an independent body that would resolve sensitive matters on race and religion.

“This matter is still in the proposal stage and I am looking into the practicality of using existing laws, including the Sedition Act and the Penal Code to resolve related issues raised on social sites.

“This is because I find that some of them are unaware that their postings are offensive to other religions and in this case, the Commission will call on the relevant parties to explain to them,” he said.

by Bernama.

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Harmony in our cultural nuances

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Children of various races taking part in a lion dance during the Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur last year. FILE PIC

IN Malaysia, after the celebration is before the celebration. No sooner have we packed away the Christmas decorations than the Chinese New Year lanterns come out of the boxes.

They are followed in close succession by Thaipusam, Easter, Ramadan, Wesak Day, Hari Raya and so forth.

Living in Malaysia, we are the envy of our single-culture relatives, if only for the fact that we get far more days off work than anyone back home.

Any reasonably informed resident of Malaysia will agree that, while the roughly 17 national plus a good handful of regional holidays are nice to have, the diversity of cultural celebrations here has an important impact on mutual understanding and respect.

On the other side of the globe however, in its effort to be considerate towards the cultural traditions of others, the Western world struggles with a fairly novel concept that has been coined “cultural appropriation”.

Fashion designers are being castigated for using fabrics and motifs of foreign cultures in their runway shows.

Pop icons are being criticised for propagating dance moves and hairstyles of cultures other than their own.

Tourists are being scolded upon displaying tattoos featuring tribal designs or exotic writing styles.

The cultural, religious or ethnic display of anything outside our own ethnic heritage is viewed as problematic at best, and more often than not, downright offensive.

Hence the expression of “appropriation”.

The British Dictionary’s definition of appropriation reads: “The act of setting apart or taking for one’s own use”, which implies taking something away from somebody else, in other words, stealing.

If that is a fact, then I am guilty of many offences: Two beautiful red paper lanterns have been hanging from my front porch for many years, a stunning painting depicting Buddha adorns our entry hall, and if it wasn’t for my impetuous pets, I’d have a rangoli (kolam) at my house every Deepavali.

I touch my hand to my chest upon greeting someone with a handshake.

Also, I own and have been known to wear a sari, a Punjabi suit, a baju kurung and a cheongsam on various occasions.

It has occurred to me that I really can’t pull off the cheongsam — I like cake and chocolate way too much for that.

It has never occurred to me however, that I shouldn’t be allowed to wear one.

I have had temporary henna tattoos artistically applied on my hands by one of my Indian friends and my left wrist is permanently featuring a gorgeous dragon tattoo.

Does this foraging into foreign heritage make me a cultural appropriator?

An insensitive prick, and a thief? It certainly does not.

Once the topic of cultural appropriation had transited from a sound academic debate to the self-righteous war cry of oversensitive Internet watchdogs less than a decade ago, common sense seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

After all, if nothing of another culture were to be shared, concepts such as democratic discourse, mathematics, or even the modern-day calendar would still be firmly secluded in their originating regions.

Furthermore, let’s briefly touch on the obvious subject of pizza in Beijing, dim sum in New York, and me eating a delicious banana leaf dinner at the local mamak stall.

Respectfully emulating, and therefore celebrating each other’s cultural heritage is a compliment to diversity.

There is a not-so-fine line between this and making fun of our differences. We all know it when we see it.

The fact that different Malaysian ethnicities joyfully partake in each other’s festivities is living proof that cultural appreciation is essential to a harmonious co-habitation.

To put it in the words of Canadian clinical psychologist, author, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Jordan Peterson: “The idea of cultural appropriation is nonsense, and that’s that. There’s no difference between cultural appropriation and learning from each other. They’re the same thing.

“Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s no theft between people; there is.

“And it doesn’t mean that once you encounter someone else’s ideas, you have an absolute right to those ideas as if they’re your own.

“But the idea that manifesting some element of another culture in your own behaviour is immoral is insane. It’s actually one of the bases of peace.”

By Fanny Bucheli-Rotter

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A cause to celebrate

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

The tossing of yee sang has become a custom for Farisya’s family during their annual Chinese New Year celebrations.

MANDARIN oranges, red angpow packets and colourful cheongsam dresses – what do these signify? For those who do not celebrate Chinese New Year, these things probably indicate another school break or public holiday.

I was not born of Chinese ancestry, although my strong Oriental features may give you the notion. I am, however, part of the non-Chinese crowd who embraces this celebration.

Growing up, one of my favourite tales to read was a myth about how some Chinese New Year traditions came to be. The story goes thus: A small village in ancient China was terrorised by a frightening sea beast called Nian that only emerged from the waters on New Year’s day.

A beggar arrived at the village seeking food and shelter one particular New Year’s eve but because the village-folk were busy packing up to flee to the mountains before the beast arrived, they paid him no heed. All except for one old woman, who considered it a lost cause to escape.

To repay her for the food she had given him, he vowed to expel Nian once and for all. He did this by brightly lighting up the old woman’s house, putting up bright red banners around the door and donning a robe of the same shade on himself.

When the monster approached, it felt hesitant and fearful. But what really did the trick was lighting up firecrackers! The poor beast fled back to the ocean and never returned.

I adore this legend, and still revisit it from time to time when I am in need of a good read.

For as long as I can remember, my family, who are big fans of Chinese cuisine, have always gone out to have a feast, which includes yee sang, to welcome Chinese New Year. The waiter would explain to us what each element of the dish symbolises.

Pepper and cinnamon powder represent health and youth, plum sauce represents sweetness in life, and crackers represent wealth and prosperity. These are all aspects of life that one would hope for in the new year.

I know this does not hold a candle to the grandeur of how Chinese New Year is supposed to be celebrated – even if it is just a simple banquet in a small family home, the value is so much deeper for those born into the culture.

However, this should not hinder us from taking part in the festivities. Some Malaysians of non-Chinese descent never attempt to join in, aside from hearing Chinese New Year songs and seeing the elaborate decorations at shopping complexes.

This is honestly such a wasted opportunity. As Malaysians, we should try and include ourselves with our brothers and sisters of different ethnicities as often as possible. It definitely promotes a deeper sense of love and understanding.

For instance, my mother always receives a goodie bag filled with sweets and oranges during Chinese New Year from Aunty Agnes, my next door neighbour. In return, Aunty Agnes receives a Tupperware packed full of lemang and rendang during Hari Raya Aidilfitri for her family.

Although the act may be small, the meaning behind it is monumental. You do not necessarily have to splurge and throw massive open house parties to show for a good time.

For any celebration, the true essence behind it is sharing whatever you can. It transcends material offerings, as sometimes the feeling of joy is what truly matters to be shared.

The beauty and sentiments of this auspicious time of the year certainly runs deeper than the physical rites and rituals.

Farisya Azwar Ridzuan is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) team. To read more articles written by BRATs participants, sign up for the NiE pullout. It is published on Wednesdays bi-monthly and available only through school subscriptions. To subscribe, call the toll free number 1-300-88-7827 (Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm). For more information on Star-NiE’s BRATs programme, go to


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Penang church’s Xmas tree-lighting ceremony enchants 1,000 visitors

Monday, December 23rd, 2019
GEORGETOWN 22 DECEMBER 2019. Standing resplendent in the middle of the courtyard was a 5 metre Christmas tree frame which was outlined with coloured lights. Gift wrapped presents were later distributed to the young ones at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus here this evening during the parish’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. NSTP/MIKAIL ONG

GEORGE TOWN: Festive Christmas decorations and Yuletide carols welcomed parishioners at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus during the parish’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, on Sunday night.

Attended by over 1,000 people, the inaugural event was held in the church’s courtyard, where a 5-metre Christmas tree frame, outlined with coloured lights, stood resplendent.

Applause and cheers greeted the lighting up of the tree, as the church’s choir led visitors in singing carols.

Gift wrapped presents were later distributed to young ones in the crowd.

Parish priest Reverend Father Jude Miranda described Christmas as a joyous celebration to welcome the birth of Christ – an event which unites Christians and other Malaysians.

“It is a great honour and pleasure for us to celebrate the spirit of Christmas in the company of our fellow parishioners, neighbours and friends.

“The spirit of Christmas can only be felt if we open our hearts to caring for one another, and sharing whatever little we may have,” he added.

Apart from singing Christmas carols, participating in games and indulging in cookie exchanges, parishioners were able to partake in a spot of festive shopping at a Christmas bazaar set up on the premises.

By Marina Emmanuel.

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