COMMENT | What was the new Perak Mentri Besar, Ahmad Faizal Azumu, thinking, when he agreed to hold this year's Hari Raya Aidil Fitri open house at Ipoh's Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) theme park?
Celebrating a religious festivity in a theme park cheapens the religion and trivialises the significance of the occasion. It is insulting and disrespectful.
One cannot imagine the leader of a country hosting Christmas, Easter, Deepavali or Wesak celebrations at Disneyland, Harry Potter Studios, Universal Studios, Legoland or at the Lost World of Tambun.
Hari Raya is a solemn and important religious holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, a month of empathy for the poor. It is signified by acts of charity, discipline, self-control, special prayers, patience, abstinence and forging a stronger bond with God.
In the balik kampung exodus, individuals return home to share this special day with parents and family members. People seek forgiveness, and in typical Malaysian fashion, the doors of the family home are thrown open to receive friends and relatives - the "open house". Many people also pay their respects at the graves of deceased family members.
This year's "open house" at MAPS is a serious error of judgment by Ahmad Faizal. People do not spend hours in a gridlocked highway, only to queue-up and be bribed with free food and free entrance to the theme park. It makes a mockery of Hari Raya.
A few weeks earlier, Ahmad Faizal's lame approach to the Manjoi mob had invited criticism. Troublemakers from Muslim NGOS risked straining community relations when they terrorised shop assistants, in a grocery store in Manjoi, by demanding the removal of alcohol from the shelves...