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COMMENT | As Chinese in Malaysia feast during the Chinese New Year celebrations, the ‘happy’ in "Happy Chinese New Year" greetings certainly does not apply to the state of intolerance towards (fictitious) animals deemed anathema to the majority Muslim community in Malaysia.

It was only two weeks ago that the director-general of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) Othman Mustapha, urged Malaysians to embrace and embody the spirit of co-existence amidst the lunar holiday. However, this spirit has not been present thus far, evidenced by incidents such as a government ad showing a barking rooster instead of a dog and shopping malls pulling back from canine decorations so as to not offend Muslims.

The controversy surrounding the omission of dogs in public decorations is in itself not surprising, it is merely symptomatic of the lack of a multicultural spirit and a poignant vantage point for what needs to be done to foster such a spirit.

The poor dog has been implicated before. In 2016, Jakim recommended that pretzel store franchise Auntie Anne's change the name of its "Pretzel Dog" to "Pretzel Sausage" in order to receive a halal certification. The franchise did change the name, avoiding ‘confusion’ among Muslims...

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