Malaysia’s ‘Open House’ ensures all are welcome on Eid

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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
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Malaysians enjoy the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others during Eid. (AN photo)
Updated 05 June 2019
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Malaysia’s ‘Open House’ ensures all are welcome on Eid

  • PM, king open their doors for Eid
  • Malaysia famed for being multicultural

KUALA LUMPUR: In Malaysia, Eid is not only a time for close friends and family. It is a time when people throw open their doors and invite others to join the festivities.

The country’s Open House tradition has been around for decades - although its origin is unknown - and takes place during the country’s major festivals including Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, Christmas, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad and his Cabinet hosted an Open House on Wednesday, while King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah is hosting one at his palace on Thursday in his home state of Pahang.

While these events attracts thousands of people, and can involve public transport arrangements and catering trucks, there are also smaller-scale offerings of hospitality.

“The food is the main attraction,” Siti Khadijah Kamaruddin, a 34-year-old working mother, told Arab News. “It is the only time where we would have a feast of lontong (cubed rice with vegetarian coconut curry), rendang (spicy stewed meat), satay and kuah kacang (skewed meat with spicy peanut sauce). Sometimes we even have a barbecued whole lamb.”

She said it was a family tradition to have an Open House on the first day of Eid, when relatives, friends and neighbors were invited to enjoy a glorious feast. “During Open House we simply open our gates to others so they can come and visit us. It is an enjoyable time for me as I am usually busy with kids and work, so have little time with friends and family. It helps me to cherish the good moments with them!”

Malaysia is one of the most multicultural nations in the region. It is home to Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and people from other ethnic minorities. It is normal for visitors and residents to be exposed to different cultures, languages, traditions, religions and cuisines.

Adrian Pereira, 38, is a Christian who works in the non-profit sector.

“I like the Open House tradition because it brings everyone together,” he told Arab News. “Growing up in a small town in Kota Tinggi, we always frequented our neighbor’s house during Hari Raya (Eid). We built strong bonds and friendships during that time. Of course, I still remember ketupat, rendang, satay, which are my favourite dishes! Although some of these foods are available throughout the year, it has a special and magical taste during Hari Raya.”

Imran, an Arab-Palestinian based in Kuala Lumpur, said he enjoyed the tradition of sharing food and happiness with others.

“The kuih raya (Malay cookies) in Malaysia are so tasty, especially the kuih nenas (pineapple cookies). Also sometimes they have durian fruit, which is a must-try!” he told Arab News. “One of the most beautiful things is everyone gets something during Hari Raya. Children get duit raya (green money packets), older people enjoy the festive cuisine and delicacies. Houses are open for people to visit each other.”

He said Eid was special to every Malaysian because it resonated with the idea of forgiveness.

“People remember their family members, they practice silaturrahim (strengthening ties), they forgive each other, this is beautiful.”

He also said the Open House tradition was a great leveler as it was something everyone could participate in.


Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

Updated 44 min 15 sec ago

Thai police order for intel on Muslim students sparks outrage

  • Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the Malay-Muslim population
  • Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states

BANGKOK: A Thai Muslim student group Wednesday called for police to drop an order requesting universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in the Buddhist-majority state.
Muslims make up Thailand’s second largest religious group, with the majority residing in its three southernmost states, which since 2004 have been in the grip of a conflict between Malay-Muslim separatist rebels and Thai authorities.
Rights groups have long accused the state of heavy-handed sweeps of the majority Malay-Muslim population in that region — which is under martial law.
Last week the Special Branch Bureau issued a nationwide order to universities to provide “intelligence” on Muslim students and their activities in school, police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told AFP Tuesday, citing “security” concerns.
The news sparked immediate outrage from the community, and the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand on Wednesday called for parliament to “cancel” the request.
The Special Branch’s order “is also a form of discrimination that breaches the constitution,” president Ashraf Awae said, speaking outside parliament.
Such “groundless accusations... could create divisions among the Muslim students and others in the university and society,” he said.
He added the federation had already heard of police requesting information on Muslim student groups from at least three major universities.
Junta chief-turned-prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha on Tuesday defended the Special Branch, and denied creating a “database” would be a violation of people’s rights.
“We can’t arrest anyone if they don’t do anything wrong,” he told reporters.
Prayut’s backing shows an “alarming trend of growing Islamophobia in Thailand,” said Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk.
“This is state-sanctioned discrimination,” he told AFP, adding that the Thai constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination toward different religions and ethnic groups.
“It could feed into radicalization of Muslims in the deep south and worsen the conflict,” Sunai said.
The ex-general had masterminded a coup in 2014, leading a five-year junta regime before elections in March formally installed him as a civilian premier thanks to a new constitution tilted to the military.
Under Prayut’s tenure as junta head, police had rounded up at least 50 Thai Muslims, mostly university students, in a dragnet operation in October 2016 that authorities justified was necessary to stop a suspected car bomb plot.