Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lion Dance in Baju Melayu

Hey, I love the baju Melayu and I certainly enjoyed putting them on especially as part of dikir barat performances. But baju Melayu for Lion Dance performance? Now, that might be taking our multi-cultural identity a little too far.

However, that is exactly what our Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage have requested the lion dance performers for the National 2007 Chinese Open House to do. Understandably, the performers rejected any such suggestions, and the organisers backed down only after a "heated discussion".

What is worrying is that there appears to be a concerted effort to play down the Chinese culture during National Chinese New Year celebrations. In an open letter to Datuk Dr Rais Yatim, the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, DAP's Secretary-General, Lim Guan Eng who is based in Melaka claimed that the "celebration is weird as this is definitely not how Chinese New Year is celebrated in Malaysia."

There are for example, "neither Chinese characters nor Chinese cultural performances such as lion dance listed as part of the official programme," as it such characters or performances are a taboo amongst the Malaysian community.

The only performance listed in the official programme were Tarian Joget Malaysia, a parade, the singing of ‘Budi Bahasa Budaya Kita’ song and a fireworks display.
"Are Chinese cultural performances not appropriate enough to be watched by our King? The Chinese community can see no reason why lion dances cannot be performed before the King as part of the official programme when this is Chinese New Year.

If Chinese cultural performances are deemed as unfit to be part of the official programme, then the government should stop such pretence of respecting the diverse cultures and races by correcting our tourism advertisements."
If the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage's official position is to remove the Chinese characteristics from the Malaysian Chinese culture, then clearly it is not a multi-cultural Malaysian identity which the Government is pursuing. Instead, we are looking towards an assimilated rojak culture.

Cheongsam for joget anyone?
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