After the Year of Dog, this Chinese New Year on February 5 will mark the beginning of the Year of Pig.
Last year, no malls decorated their concourses with imagery of dogs. Even a T-shirt, sold in hypermarket Giant, censored itself by replacing Dog and Pig drawings with Chinese characters.
Our doings were criticised by international media, such as BBC, CNN, Express UK, Asia Nikkei, Business Insider and among others, because of our inability to see past that dogs (or pigs) are more than just forbidden creatures in certain religions.
CNN wrote that we omitted images of dog out of Chinese New Year decorations and merchandise for the fear of offending the Malaysian Muslim majority.
It was branded as a “symptom of the country’s growing Islamic conservatism, driven by the government’s flirtation with hardline Islamist policies and a cultural shift by religious students returning from the Middle East.”
The reports even highlighted how our ex-government pressured Auntie Anne’s and A&W to change some names on the menus that contain the word “dog” which is often a short for “hotdog” in the rest of the world.
“Pretzel Dog” was renamed to “Pretzel Sausage” in Auntie Anne’s and “Coney Dog” to “Beef Coney” or “Chicken Coney” in A&W.
This year, the ridicules are starting to come in again. Almost no malls put up pig displays. The first to poke fun at us are the netizens of our closest neighbour − Singapore.
In a viral Facebook post, it questioned why Singaporean Muslims were not offended by gigantic pig parade balloon displays.
“Malaysians be like: ‘How come Singapore Muslims not offended?’
“Singapore Muslim be like: ‘I’m offended what! The pig damn ugly la. Why can’t it be piglet in Winnie the Pooh kind of pig,’” the post caption jibed.
The top comment of the post with over 600 Likes in agreement said, “Because we are educated. No time to think about all this nonsense.”
Another netizen added that it is because Singaporean Muslims do not like to be “extra”.
“Our Singapore Malay friends don’t bother about all these lah. They understand the cultures of others. Wet markets got pork stalls. Then how? Our Malays cannot go markets lah. Some people only like to extra,” the Singaporean netizen wrote.
The comment section was a laugh house and most netizens mock at our backwardness and racial politics. But with the new government ruling the nation this year, it looks like the no-dog-no-pig ban is lifted.
FMT reported Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad as saying that there is no directive to ban public display of pig imagery during the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
“As far as I know, there is no instruction. Are pictures of pigs also haram?” the minister asked rhetorically.