The prime minister has snubbed Penang by announcing that the Johor Baru Chingay procession is being recognised as a national heritage, although Chingay is identified with Penang, where it has been performed for more than 100 years, and an annual procession and competition, of multiracial teams, is held as part of Pesta Pulau Pinang.
JB chingay parade gazetted as heritage (New Straits Times)
Najib Razak made the annuncement at the government’s Chinese New Year open house on Saturday and said the government had decided to gazette the Johor Baru chingay procession as part of the Chinese heritage there and 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.
His assertion of pride in Malaysian Chinese culture smacks of political expediency, coming after years of Umno politicians denigrating the Malaysian Chinese community and Malaysian Chinese culture — among other measures, Ghazali Shafie had proposed in the 1970s that the lion dance be changed to the tiger dance; other radical Umno politicians have frequently issued calls for restrictions on Chinese culture and Chinese-language education; and "pendatang" often used to describe the Malaysian ethnic Chinese, Indian and other communities.
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