Saturday August 18, 2012
The Goontings truly embody the Muhibbah concept
By FAZLEENA AZIZ and MUHD BASYAR MUSTAPHA
Photo by SHAHRUL FAZRY ISMAIL
THE Goonting family is a true reflection of 1Malaysia.
Just by talking to the family, one would be able to sense the racial harmony the Goontings share with family members comprising Malay, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian.
The Goontings are Eurasian and of Dutch-Portuguese descent from Malacca but they grew up in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.
This Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Yusniza Abdullah aka Eunice Goonting and husband Mohd Ikram Mohamed Zugina hosted their annual celebration for the family.
Eunice has six sisters and one brother. She met her husband while working at Legend Hotel and the couple has three children.
Her marriage to Ikram is her second.
“We didn’t like each other initially and we used to be competitive. But I guess it was fate that brought us together because I didn’t have a place to celebrate Hari Raya after the passing of my godmother.
“When Ikram invited me to his home, his parents immediately took a liking to me. The rest is history and we got married after getting consent from both families.
For Ikram, who was brought up to be tolerant and respectful to all, there was no major adjustments after marriage.
“I had no problems with my wife’s family or with their beliefs. In fact, I enjoy the diversity and I get to learn about and appreciate other customs and culture.
“Now I get to celebrate Christmas, Chinese New Year and Deepavali with my in-laws and they celebrate Hari Raya with us. Once we are able to look beyond race and creed, we can enhance our knowledge and enjoy so much,” he said.
This Hari Raya, Eunice has prepared her famous pineapple tarts, coconut biscuits, chocolate chip cookies, Devil Curry, Ikan Masak Lemak and Stuffed Fish Ball, among others, for her guests.
“I can cook many types of dishes ranging from Malay, Indian to Chinese. Usually when we balik kampung to my in-laws house in Klang, I do the cooking.
“My sisters also help me when required as we all live nearby. It is great for us as a family to come together during the festive season because we get to celebrate all the festivals as my sisters are married to Chinese, Hindu and Christian.
“The atmosphere is always filled with laughter and cheer and bonding, which is important for us as a family,” she said.
Eunice’s sister, Winni Goonting, 53, makes sure she celebrates Hari Raya with Eunice’s family every year and other celebrations together with other family members.
“Not only do we celebrate Hari Raya with Eunice’s sister in Ampang but we also go to her husband’s kampung in Klang.
“Before the term 1Malaysia came about, we used the term muhibbah to describe our family and we are proud of it,” said Winni.
Winni, whose husband is Chinese, said her daughter Low Yee Lan, 15, enjoys wearing Malay, Chinese and Indian traditional attire for the various festivals.
Meanwhile, the Goonting siblings’ eldest sister, Jennifer Maureen Goonting, 60, also makes sure she takes leave for a couple of days for Hari Raya, Deepavali and Chinese New Year.
“My former boss always approves my leave application as he knows that I have a big family that celebrates all these major festivals.
“My son and daughter are also married to Muslims and every year I celebrate the first day of Raya with my daughter’s family at their house. This is something I look forward to every year,” said the retiree.