PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday announced that the government had decided to gazette the Johor Baru chingay procession as a national heritage.
He said the government recognised it as part of the Chinese heritage there and wanted to honour it.
“We take it for granted but this is our way of honouring the Chinese community in the country. We need to repeat this as the Chinese here are unique and that’s what makes Malaysia rich in culture,” he said to cheers from the 50,000- strong crowd at the national Chinese New Year open house here last night.
Chingay, which originated from China, is a street art where the performer balances a giant flagpole that ranges from 7m to 10m in height and about 27kg in weight.
Over the years, the local Chinese have been improvising the chingay performance.
From a giant flagpole balanced by a single performer, it has developed into a team performance with more than 15 people in a troupe.
In his speech, Najib also assured the Chinese community that the government’s various transformation programmes would help people of all races and that everyone would reap the benefits as the economic pie became bigger.
He said the Chinese ability to do business and their hardworking attitude would ensure better profits.
“We are also helping them with various funds for their business.”
Najib said government’s free and open market concept helped maintain peace and stability in the nation.
“We are pro-growth and pro-business,” he said.
He said there were many reasons why people should be thankful, considering the prosperity the nation enjoyed and the clear direction that it was heading.
“In the last three years, we have done so many things, using ideas that had never been thought of before. If we get five more years, just imagine what we can do for you.”
He hoped people of all races could grow and prosper together.
Najib said the culture of the Chinese Malaysians were the purest in Southeast Asia because of the government’s efforts to preserve it.
He said this was because the founding fathers of the nation decided on integration, rather than assimilation, thus preserving cultural purity.
“I am proud of the purity of the Chinese culture here as it’s special. No other country has it.”
He said that even in China, many traditional values and books were destroyed or had gone missing during the Chinese cultural revolution.
“But in Malaysia, we still respect and honour the purity.”
Earlier, residents of Taman Sepakat, near here, cheered when Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, arrived by bus for a visit to their neighbourhood.
Many of the residents, as well as those from nearby areas, gathered for a chance to meet and greet Najib.
One of Najib’s first stops was the house of mechanic Tan Kee Siew, 40, who was proud to receive the prime minister.
His father, Sin Leng, 63, said he was excited to meet the prime minister for the first time.
“Meeting the country’s number one leader is definitely an opportunity not to be missed.
“I have only seen one other prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Having Najib in my house would definitely become a hot topic of conversation among my neighbours, friends and family for a long time to come,” said Sin Leng happily.
Najib also visited the house of contractor Ling Tai Yew, 52, down the road from the Tan family.
“We are honoured to receive him in our home. Our Chinese New Year celebration this year will be much more meaningful because of this visit,” said Ling.
Najib presented both families with 1Malaysia netbooks, hampers and ang pow.
Source : New Straits Times