Letter to Editor
CHRISTMAS will be celebrated with the usual merriment on Dec 25 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic which began in early 2020.
It is a much-awaited occasion to get together with family and friends for a joyful and cheerful time after low-key celebrations of the past two years.
Despite the overcast skies, people are already getting ready for the year-end holiday and festive mood.
The long Christmas and New Year weekends are ideal for get-togethers and for sight-seeing by domestic tourists and foreign workers who usually throng shopping malls and tourist attractions.
Tourism has been the most affected sector in the country and it will be a welcome sight to see tourism slowly returning to the pre-pandemic days.
The Christmas and New Year celebrations followed by Chinese New Year in January are sure to boost consumer spending and help some sectors.
Churches, which were also much affected financially due to the lockdown and closure for a major part of the COVID-19 pandemic, will try to recoup some of the losses during the year-end services.
The country now has a unity government headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and it is hoped that the Open House events will be hosted by the Federal and state governments as was done by previous administrations.
The federal government Open House can be utilised by the new government leaders to forge friendly relationships with Opposition parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community leaders invited to the event.
The Open House events have been used to foster goodwill and understanding not only among the country’s diverse races, ethnicities and faiths but also among political and community leaders.
It is also time that the problems facing the Christian community – which the new government is well aware of – are resolved through a proactive approach.
Previously, there were a sizeable number of Christians (Indians, Ceylonese and Eurasians) in the peninsula who were prominent in the public and corporate sectors.
Although in the last few decades the population of peninsula Christians has slightly increased, their numbers and influence in national affairs have dwindled to almost zero.
As such, the Christian lobby – which highlighted the community’s concerns – now has to depend on politicians to air their grievances.
This creates animosity with other politicians who politicise even minor issues leading to negatives aspersions being cast on the loyal and patriotic Christian community.
The Prime Minister can set up a multi-racial/religious committee specifically to deal with ethnic and religious hate crimes and related issues.
Now and then, one finds hurtful messages and controversies coming to the fore, and the Government is hard-pressed to address it when it has more important and urgent matters to attend to.
The hate crimes should be left to the committee to investigate and refer to the police and the attorney-general. The people are looking forward to a new vision and mission for the transformation of the country under the unity government.
It is also time to highlight the Christian communities in East Malaysia during Christmas time as for too long they have been rendered “invisible”.
The Christmas celebrations in the East need to be shown on various multi-lingual media for a solidarity feeling.
The East Malaysian Christians outnumber those in the peninsula and more focus should be given to Christian celebrations in Sabah and Sarawak.
It is also time that Sabahans and Sarawakians are included in the symbolic images of ethnic diversity of Malaysia. Mostly, we observe a Malay, a Chinese and an Indian as the demographic symbol of the country.
I feel that a Sabahan and a Sarawakian – it does not matter which gender, ethnicity or religion – with their unique traditional attire should be included permanently as a symbol of the diversity of the country in advertisements, tourist brochures and publicity materials.
This will reduce the sense of alienation that the East Malaysians feel about being left out or not included.
I hope the new government will be inclusive and make Sabahans and Sarawakians a permanent and proud symbol of the country other than the usual Malay, Chinese and Indian.
Presently, many parts of the peninsula are facing severe monsoonal floods and the number of evacuees stands around 70,000 and the damage to property and infrastructure is very high.
This brings to mind the self-help volunteering spirit shown during the Sri Muda flood at this time last year.
The public can help the government and the affected people in various ways. Churches holding the Christmas and New Year Services, which are usually attended by a large number of parishioners, can start a collection or donation drive for flood victims to make this year’s Christmas more meaningful.
After all, the central theme of Christianity is caring and sharing with others who need help. – Dec 23, 2022
Sungai Buloh, Selangor
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica