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Lunar New Year

Malaysian government mocked for featuring barking rooster in Chinese ‘Year of the Dog’ ad cock-up

The full-page advert by the domestic trade, co-operatives and consumerism ministry showed a rooster emitting the word ‘wang’, used to represent a dog’s bark in Mandarin

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 February, 2018, 1:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 February, 2018, 1:32pm

Malaysia has apologised after a government ad in Chinese-language newspapers featuring a picture of a barking rooster to mark the Year of the Dog sparked a flood of mockery.

The full-page advert by the domestic trade, co-operatives and consumerism ministry showed a rooster emitting the word “wang”, used to represent a dog’s bark in Mandarin.

The advert, printed in Chinese-language newspapers in the multi-ethnic country on Thursday, also carried a message welcoming a “prosperous Year of the Dog”.

Chinese New Year is being celebrated across Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog and the end of the Year of the Rooster.

Ethnic Chinese are a substantial minority in mostly Muslim Malaysia, making up about a quarter of the population.

The ad sparked mockery online. While some lambasted the government for what they saw as a picture mix-up, others thought it was a cack-handed attempt to avoid using a dog image as the animals are considered unclean in Islam.

“It reflects nothing but mere stupidity,” said Facebook user Tony Yeo.

Another user said the ad was a “national embarrassment” and accused authorities of seeking to avoid using a canine picture: “There is nothing wrong with using the dog image as it’s a Chinese zodiac animal.”

The ministry issued an apology late Thursday and said a “technical error” was behind the mistake, without saying how they had intended the ad to appear.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience,” said a statement from spokesman Luqman Hakim Abd Malik.

Images of barking canines are commonly used to mark the start of Year of the Dog, as the word “wang” also translates as “prosperity” in Mandarin.

But stores and shopping malls in Malaysia have shied away from prominently displaying dog imagery this year for fear of causing offence, at a time of growing concern about Islamic conservatism.