Mosque draws flak from netizens for organising CNY celebration in its premises

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A Chinese New Year celebration organised by and held at Masjid Yusof Ishak on Saturday (24 Feb) has drawn flak from some netizens.

According to the Malay daily, almost 100 residents from three elderly nursing homes (Swami Home, SunLove and Orange Valley) were treated to a special luncheon and song and dance performances at the mosque, located at 10 Woodlands Drive 17. These residents were gifted an ‘hongbao’ and two oranges each, at the celebration.

The mosque chairman, Encik Mohammad Ayub Johari, said that such shows strengthen the friendship between Singaporeans and said: “This is a fortune to our country because of the mutual understanding, unity and cooperation and respect for each other from all walks of Singapore.”

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung graced the event, accompanied by fellow Sembawang GRC MP Vikram Nair. Calling the event a “special” one that reflects the spirit of Singapore’s first president Yusok Ishak, Ong said: “The response shows Mr Yusof Ishak’s spirit that we are a Singapore, we live together in harmony as a nation and we always provide assistance to the less fortunate.”

Nair noted that mosque staff were also invited to Chinese New Year celebrations at a monastery and that such interactions increase the understanding between the different races in Singapore: “A monastery has also invited the mosque staff and in good spirits, they attend the Chinese New Year celebration there. So I think that such a process can not only encourage engagement but also increase understanding.”

Some netizens, however, expressed a different view.

Bloggers at The Rojak Nation questioned whether it is necessary to hold Chinese New Year celebrations at a mosque and why such celebrations could not have been held at a Community Centre instead:

“Yesterday, Masjid Yusof Ishyak showcased a CNY celebration on its premise. Complete with a band, song and dance and graced by a Chinese minister.
“We have no issues with Muslims celebrating CNY. It is a cultural event and we have many Chinese Muslims who celebrate their CNY with their families.
“But do we have to go to the extend of organising a song and dance in a mosque, a sacred religious space for worship, the house of God?
“Before you misunderstand, we fully acknowledge that the race and religious harmony which we currently enjoy is precious and we should do all we can to maintain it.. But surely the mosque deserves some decorum , no?”

Other netizens agreed that the event could have been held elsewhere and asked whether Muslim religious council, MUIS, was aware of this:

The mosque has since responded and acknowledged the reactions to the event that have been circulating online. It clarified:

“For the sake of the ceremony, we have invited the orchestra of the Malay Series of the youth and singing the original malay song in accordance with the audience of the elderly home.
“Solar TV news in 24/2/18 reports a dance event that causes a misunderstanding among the people. There was no dance. At the ceremony, juruacara from the philharmonic temasik series of English and Mandarin, want to show the softness of the malay dance according to the songs that are sung. So he asks the audience to follow the steps of dance that he shows in order to taste the beauty and the softness of the Malay Dance.”

It further said that the impromptu dance was caused by an oversight by the organising committee and apologisedfor the distress caused to the congregation:

Mosque apologises for “inappropriate” dance segment at CNY celebration held at its premises

54 COMMENTS

  1. Organise Chinese Cooking show people kpkb, celebrate CNY in a mosque people also kpkb.

    What happened to Racial Tolerance?

    Is Islam a religion of intolerance? If that person IS SO EASILY SWAYED by external factors like celebrating another races festival or just by looking at a dog or pig photo, they might as well have no religion at all.

  2. I don’t know whether this will help in our cohesion.
    I am fair, people call me Ah Pek!
    My good friend is dark, I call him Oh eh! Another friend…I call him Oh Sai!
    We usually call Ang Moh! By Yi!
    Do we really meant to be racist?
    When I fart, people pinch their nose and exclaim “stink!” If I don’t like it, I should avoid food that make me fart! When food taste bad, I exclaim “yuck!” If the hawker don’t like it, he should cook better.
    It is natural for quite many people to put what they see, smell or taste in words.
    Do we all need to take it to heart?
    But come to religion matter, I suggest we treat the place with great respect. Don’t do the wrong things! If singing is considered disrespectful, then there should be no song of any language.
    Going to the Chinese temple, usually nobody cares your dressing, but the deity can tell how much is one’s faith by how one dress/cleanliness for the prayer right?

    • Hinduism doesn’t ban another religion from entering our temples. Tolerance and sensitivity are not new concepts to us… Tell you a story. A friend of mine passed away suddenly in an accident. He was Catholic. While the priest was doing the last rights, officers from muis arrived with a few guys to seize the body to conduct a Muslim burial. Unknown to his parents he had converted because of his muslim fiancé. It was a tough situation… Bordering on violence and threats made from both sides.. In the end.. The Catholic priest said…we don’t need the body. Fundamental issues here are solving problems in society with peace. Not the enforcement of one set of customs and beliefs over another. Mosque, temple, Church… Well.. Are they not the same conduit.

    • Technically Chinese New Year is religious.
      Gods leaving and returning to Earth, Nuwa creation of humans, are based on Chinese folk beliefs.
      It’s just that it’s so ingrained in our Chinese culture that Christian Chinese also celebrates Chinese New Year.
      If you treat it as a celebration of spring, and the start of the Lunar Calendar, then it’s not religious…

  3. Common Sense tells that a place of worship is a serene place where prayers conducted. The energy is serene at such places and will bring calm and peace to the worshippers . Such places must be left for prayers and chanting of mantras. The energy in such places should not be disturbed.
    These places are not for conducting celebrations. They could have conducted it in a function hall. Community Centre would have been the most appropriate place. People who have not grown up with religion, traditions and culture should have conducted some research before arranging such celebrations.
    To say that it is to bring harmony amongst people is a joke. Bringing about 100 old folks who can hardly walk and communicate will bring harmony amongst people? At the most it can be said the Muslims Organisations are respecting the multi cultural festivals in Singapore and they are also showing their compassion to our older generations by organising such celebrations. They could have hired a function hall at the Community Centre. BUT THEY CHOSE THE WRONG PLACE TO DO IT.

    • Yes! There should be public education/awareness, especially with influx of multi country migrants. Somebody is holidaying in his job!
      Eg. Mosque, monastery should be kept serene, Chinese temple can have lion dance, cultural wayang or getai.

  4. Aahhhh. The hypocrisy of the conservatives.

    House of God? It’s a place of worship, it’s not sacred land.

    The intolerant preaching tolerance but rears their ugly heads when it’s their turn to show some.

    Come on la. Cultural celebration have no rituals of other religion hence there’s nothing to even fret about. Pfftttt

  5. I just waiting for the time,where Malay weddings kompang being replace by lion dance,kompang used for Thaipusam kavadi’s carriers,Christmas carol with lion dance. Uniquely,amazingly truly awesome multi racial
    har-money. The ultimate ‘wayang showcase’ to show off to the world. This is what happens when mosques are force to finds funds to maintain their expenses. Monthly deductions from working Muslims adults increasing in the name of Mosque Bill Funds. But when comes to upgrading OR building new mosque the funds or always not enough. The so called mosques building/upgrading have to find own funds/donations.

  6. I am a muslim, there is nothing wrong with it as long as they respect our religion. I don’ t why this people, making a fuss out of it. Like it seems they are really religious people. Ask you, how many times did they goes to the mosque daily. I think this people are brain dead. Respect each other religion, and please bear in mind that our country is a multi racial one.

    • You are a muslim….and you measured one religioness but the frequency of them going to the mosque? What kind of a question is that.
      A mosque, a temple, a church is a place where one should only do one thing….worship and pray to their Gods.
      Want to show how harmony we are? Do it somewhere else. That’s the message. By the way whos smart idea is this. By the way, I’m a malay Muslim. My chinese indian friends and brothers agreed on that. We will definitely not going to celebrate Hari Raya in a temple or church.

  7. Kalau dah sampai setaraf ini majlis ugama islam spore tidak dapat nak membezakan dan tidak dapat nak berkata kata berarti marauah agama sudah sangat redah sekali nabi besar kita nabi muhammad tidak datang kemasjid hampir sebulan kerna terlihat saorang perempuan tua meyapu dihalaman masjid renungkanlah

  8. In my opinion it was acceptable that the malay youths showed an open mind to celebrate cny. However, a mosque is not an appropriate venue. Just like if the Christian or Buddhist would invite a Muslim to celebrate Hari raya in the church or temple. How would the Muslim respond?

    • You are doing it in a mosque. What is ok? A mosque is not a community center. Likewise for temple and church. Back off, don’t get too comfortable. Definitely hari raya will not be celebrated in temple or church in the name of racial harmony. Besides this, does it really reflect our true self as a singaporean. We are more of tolerating and giving mutual respect to one another.