Sabah Muslim couple buck the norm with piggy wares for Chinese New Year

KOTA KINABALU: It’s a busy day at the Riverson Walk bazaar at Kota Kinabalu Times Square where traders have set up their stalls and spread out an array of goods and products to tempt passers-by.

Adam Baderun and Yuslina Badrum are among the many calling out to prospective customers. Their stall features a variety of laser-cut items specially designed for Chinese New Year.

Key chains, pins and bookmarks are carefully arranged in rows. But perhaps the most eye-catching sight of all are the figurines of pigs, in conjunction with the Chinese zodiac animal being celebrated this year.

The pig is considered unclean by the predominant Malay-Muslim community, but this Sabahan Muslim couple have no problem selling the figurines, nor do their customers seem fazed by the sight of tudung-clad Yuslina hawking her piggy wares.

Yuslina, nicknamed Yus, is of Kadazan-Sungai descent.

“It’s business as usual,” she told FMT. “There have been no awkward reactions so far, only positive comments and inquiries from our customers.”

Yus, a secondary school teacher, doesn’t understand the fuss over the animal in West Malaysia. She says if people truly understand their religion, they won’t get upset over trivial matters.

“For me, there is no issue (selling pig figurines),” she said.

“Pigs and dogs are God’s creation as well. As long as you keep to your own religion, like not consuming swine meat, you’re okay.

“You’d be surprised how much we can learn and understand about other people’s culture if we promote tolerance.”

The bazaar here where FMT caught up with the couple is held every two months. Yus and her husband Adam share the business with two others.

Adam said all of the items at their stall are made in their own shop in Penampang using laser cut technology. When asked about their experience of selling the figurines, he said it is a non-issue in Sabah.

“In the peninsula, the very mention of babi or pig will raise red flags. But for us, we know our faith. Selling the icons will not shake our beliefs. We don’t consume the meat, and the items are just art.

“It’s not our place to look down on other people’s culture,” he added. “In Sabah, we live in a multiracial and multi-religious setting, and we tolerate each other. We learn to appreciate our respective beliefs.”

Adam is an aircraft technician. His father is from Perak and his mother hails from Selangor, but both have been living in Sabah for over 40 years now.

“My parents have no problem with us selling the pig icons,” he told FMT. “They have been here for so long and have learned how tolerant a society Sabah is.”

But the bulk of Adam’s thanks for teaching him about the harmonious lifestyle in Sabah goes to his wife, Yus. He and Yus, both 32 now, got married in 2013.

“My wife’s family consists of Muslims and non-Muslims. That’s where I effectively learned about tolerance and understanding the beliefs of others,” he said.

Adam and Yus said the pig figurines have been a hit among their customers. In the past, they have also sold items commemorating Easter and Christmas, including decorative pieces inscribed with Bible verses.

“We’ve had orders from people for these items as well,” Adam said. “Again, we know our own faith as this doesn’t trouble our beliefs. It is just art.

“If only people took the time and effort to understand each other.”

Source : FMT

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