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Malaysia's Cabinet tells school it is okay to put CNY lanterns back up

PUCHONGA : government school in Puchong, Selangor, which removed some of its Chinese New Year lanterns, put them up again yesterday after the Malaysian Cabinet stepped in to say such decorations are normal in schools.

The secondary school, SMK Pusat Bandar Puchong 1, took down part of its decorations, including red lanterns, after getting a letter from a small Malay political party, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), accusing the school of promoting Chinese culture to Malays.

Local news reports say Putra vice-president Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz on Monday described the decorations as being "unconstitutional", claiming complaints were received from Malay-Muslim parents.

"The complaints we received show unease at the excessive Chinese New Year decorations in your school.

"Some parents say the school looks like a Chinese-owned market with religious elements on display other than Islam," he was reported as saying.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, at its weekly meeting on Wednesday discussed the issue and issued a statement yesterday, saying it is against "racist and extremist acts" aimed at stunting the country's multiracial diversity.

Yesterday, several ministers turned up at the school to help put up the lanterns again.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said there were no problems with cultural diversity since Malaysia's independence. She said: "Don't create issues that can disunite the people. We are a stable and peaceful nation. Chinese New Year is a festival, not a religious celebration." - THE STAR

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