IT was the first day of the Lunar New Year and as usual, the different political parties and Chinese organisations hosted festive functions for VIPs as well as the public.
In keeping with tradition, Lion dance troupes made their fair share of appearances during such joyous occasions.
One video, recorded at a CNY function, organised by Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian People’s Movement Party) that has gone viral, purportedly showed a lion dance team refusing to perform in front of the Prime Minister.
In the video, the lion dancers were seen lying on the ground motionless and detractors were quick to claim the lion dancers refused to perform for the Prime Minister. It was, of course, a fabrication.
This short clip caused an uproar and, not surprisingly, the opposition were quick to jump on the bandwagon with their distorted version of the performance routine – at the expense of Parti Gerakan.
The columnist strongly condemns this practice, underscored, undoubtedly, by a malicous political motive – and can only serve to undermine the development of the Malaysian lion dance movement as well.
The Lunar New Year is all about celebrating the arrival of the New Spring – a time to put aside differences in deference to an age-old tradition, upheld by the Chinese community worldwide since time immemorial.
Even if political positions differ, they should be temporarily shelved rather than be exploited to cause a commotion out of nothing – by purposely twisting the routine of a lion dance to insult others.
We all know there are many lion dance routines. We may generally only see lion dancers performing the traditional cai qing. Lion dancers peel fruits (generally pamelo and oranges) on the ground and present them to the host family or guests. This has an auspicious and symbolic meaning.
When the video was taken, the lion dancers were on the ground peeling a pamelo and oranges, thus when the Prime Minister approached and patted the lion’s head, the dancers, quite understandably, did not respond.
In the end, the lion dancers did present the peeled pamelo to the Prime Minister and a photo was even posted on the Prime Minister’s Facebook account.
The columnist would advise the opposition to refrain from distorting and politicising everything, especially traditional festivals or cultures, just to undermine government or state leaders.
Although Malaysia’s official religion is Islam and the largest ethnic group in the country are the Malays, lion dances have always been highly regarded by the BN government and can be seen performing at numerous official cultural performances. Malaysian lion dancers have done the country proud by emerging as consecutive world champions.
Moreover, with the support of the government, Malaysia has also hosted many World Lion Dance Championships. This has not only earned lion dancing in the country international fame and recognition but also given the domestic lion dance movements a big boost.
Without the efforts of the people and the government, this could not have been achieved.
The columnist, therefore, hopes opposition supporters will not mindlessly destroy this traditional Chinese culture for political ends.
The person from Malaysia Gao Feng Lion & Dragon Dance Athletic Association who was in charge of the cai qing event during the Gerakan function, has also come out to clarify the lion dancers did not refuse to perform in front of the Prime Minister – and the peeling of the fruits takes time to complete.
Normally, the lion dancers need to peel eight oranges and a whole pamelo and the process might take more than a minute. Thus, based on the video, circulated on the Internet, the lion dancers might look like they were not moving but the fact is that they were in the process of peeling the pamelo and oranges underneath their dance costumes.
In her haste to hype up a non-issue, opposition blogger Mariam Mokhtar showed how ignorant she is about Chinese culture by making all sorts of spurious remarks about the lack of reaction on the part of the lion dancers when Najib touched the lion’s head.
Mariam, if you do not understand the lion dance culture, it is best not to speak up as it only exposes your limited knowledge about the culture.
The security issues as well as the unhygienic problem of peeling the pamelo and oranges by hand do not arise and any insinuations to the contrary are a direct insult to the lion dancers.
We all know the peeling of the pamelo and oranges is symbolic and performed to denote the auspiciousness of the Lunar New Year season. And mind you, the peeled fruits are not for consumption.
Besides, when Gerakan organised the lion dance at its CNY function where the Prime Minister was present, it had made sure sufficient security measures were in place.
Since cai qing is just a common performance, I sometimes wonder how did it become a nationwide topic?
Why are people so easily convinced by a bit of distortion? Is it because they do not understand the Chinese culture well and choose to criticise at random?
The columnist reiterates that Chinese Lunar New Year is a time for celebrations and mutual blessings. Even if political stances are different, we should temporarily put aside them aside and celebrate with each other.
The video issue has already been explained and clarified and as such, the columnist feels further polemics should now be put to a stop.
We should do this to support the lion dance as a sport and promote it as one of our cultures that has brought us fandom at the international level. (From Oriental Daily)