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Shandong Muslims mark CNY like other Chinese
Published on: Saturday, February 04, 2023
By: Wu Vui Tek
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Shandong Muslims mark CNY like other Chinese
Yunus with the dumplings which are a must-have Shandong delicacy during the festive season.
Kota Kinabalu: The Shandong Muslim community in Sabah is still preserving their traditional culture similar to other Chinese groups.

“We are still keeping our tradition even though we are Muslims because we are Chinese,” said Persatuan Shantung Muslim Sabah, President Lee Chin Kok.

Lee who prefers to be known by his Muslim name, Yunus Ariffin, said like other Chinese groups, they are also celebrating the Lunar New Year and observing all the traditional taboos.

“The only difference we had than other Chinese was that, we would prepare jiaozi (meat dumplings) at midnight to welcome the Lunar New Year,” said Yunus.

Jiaozi or “sui kow” as the locals called it, is a must-have traditional delicacy of the community which is known as “Shantung” by the locals.

“We would also prepare fish dish which is a symbol of wealth and some northern Chinese cuisine such as beef balls cooked with black fungus and served with mantau (steamed bun). “During the festivities we would wear the traditional red outfits to symbolise luck but nowadays the younger generation prefer to wear pink or purple because they have more options to choose from,” he said. Similar to other Chinese groups, the Shandong Muslims also celebrate the festival for 15 days and observe the traditional taboos, he said.

“We would not sweep the floor, prepare the nian gao (rice cake) and visit parents’ house on the first-day of the celebration.

“We would also pay respect to our ancestors and give ang pao to everyone except married couples. “We also have the northern lion dance troupe in the past to raise funds for school projects,” said Yunus. Yunus, who is the fourth generation of Chinese Malaysian, said his great-great grandfather immigrated to the then North Borneo in 1913 through the efforts of the North Borneo Company.

“My great-great grandfather was the pioneer group of 108 families from northern China to have immigrated to North Borneo. They were offered by the British to work in the agriculture sector. “Out of the 108 families, about five were Muslims which included my great-great grandfather. So I am a born Muslim.

“However, in fact, we are the Tianjin ethnic in northern part of China but somehow being wrongly termed by the local people as Shantung,” said Yunus with a smile.

He said back then the northern pioneers were offered between 10-acre and 30-acre land for each family to settle at Shantung village which was opened by the British, off Penampang old road.

On the number of Shandong population in Sabah, Yunus said they are still trying to figure out and he hoped the community would come forward to join the association.

“At the moment, we are not sure how many Shandong Muslims we have in Sabah but our association have over 100 members.

“The Shandong community is actually quite small because we only have 108 families immigrated to Sabah compared to other Chinese groups who immigrated in big numbers from southern China,” he said.

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