By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 ― PAS sought today to distance itself from the Chinese New Year guidelines controversy embroiling the Kedah government, saying the issue was purely a state matter and did not involve the party’s central leadership.
“That is the state government’s decision. Nothing to do with the party,” PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar (picture) said at a press conference here.
Mahfuz refused, however, to address claims the Syura Council ― the party’s highest decision-making body ― was behind the guidelines issued for the 1 Malaysia Chinese New Year event, which included, among other things, the appropriate attire for officials and singers.
The guidelines further stated that performers are encouraged to sing motivational songs and that if extreme singing and dancing activities were to take place, the state government has the right to shut down the programme.
They also banned adult females from appearing onstage for Chinese New Year performances.
Leaders from both sides of the political divide have described the ruling as an infringement on non-Muslim rights.
PAS’s Pakatan Rakyat allies, DAP, had also chided Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak’s government for consistently embarrassing the federal opposition bloc with its conservative policies that it said was alienating voters.
Following public pressure, Kedah exco member Dr Hamdan Mohamed Khalib yesterday admitted to the state government’s “oversight” over its guidelines for Chinese New Year celebrations.
Hamdan said in a statement issued yesterday that fresh guidelines without the previously stated conditions would be issued.
The exco explained that the initial guidelines were meant to control the organising of extreme public entertainment that will create social problems especially among the youths which, he said, were predominantly Malay-Muslim.
He also said that the guidelines will be relaxed for religious and cultural celebrations by the state’s Chinese, Indian and Siamese communities.
In the same statement Azizan gave the green light for the February 15 event to proceed but maintained that all participants must be appropriately dressed.
Today, Mahfuz said he saw the statement as a sign that the matter had been resolved.