Yesterday, Director General of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) Tan Sri Othman Mustapha called for respect towards the use of animal symbols and images during CNY
Although animal symbols are used during Chinese New Year, Othman said that all parties need to respect this practice in order to maintain racial harmony according to the concept of co-existence (fiqh taa'yush).
Othman stressed that respecting the CNY practice is in line with the government's policy of a moderate approach
According to a report by Free Malaysia Today, Othman said that the practice should not be made into an issue in accordance with the government's moderate (wasatiyyah) approach.
"Even though the lunar new year uses animals as a form of symbolism, it is something that needs to be respected for the sake of racial harmony," he added.
The Straits Times reported that Othman's comments came following the incident last month where festive T-shirts sold at Giant Hypermarket only had 10 out of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs printed on them
According to the report, the dog and the pig were missing from the T-shirts, and were replaced with Chinese characters “戌” (xū, dog) and “亥” (hài, pig).
It was also reported that some businesses and shopping malls were holding back on using dog images in their Chinese New Year decorations.
According to the Chinese zodiac, this year is the Year of the Dog.
Following Othman's statement, netizens began discussing it on Twitter