As an attempt to foster the Chinese New Year festive feels, Atria Shopping Gallery held a special occasion in their mall. They called it ‘The Tree of Dreams’, and essentially it is a wishing tree whereby shoppers can hang up their hopes and dreams on the branches of the tree in the form of notes.
In order to participate, shoppers need to make a purchase of RM50 and above in a single receipt from any store in Atria Shopping Gallery. This would entitle them to make a Chinese New Year wish at the wishing tree, which is a large artificial tree with pink cherry blossoms sprouting everywhere. Shoppers soon hung their messages on the tree on white cards with a cherry blossom design on it.
However, recently in the midst of the celebration which was scheduled to last until February 22, Atria Shopping Gallery decided to take down the activity completely. This came around after a shopper hung up a wishing card with ill wishes towards our current prime minister and his wife.
In response to this, Atria posted a Facebook message stating, “It has come to the attention of the Management of Atria Shopping Gallery that a few persons have penned politically sensitive and possibly, defamatory statements on the Wishing Cards, which were set up by Atria Shopping Gallery in the public concourse for their shoppers.”
Netizens responded to the Facebook post with mixed feedback. The first group of Facebookers were giving the shopping mall flak for taking down their well wishes for the festive season. Facebook user Edmund JP said, “But be it personal or ‘politically sensitive’, you took away all our wishes for the new year. Pantang! You’re so politically sensitive, yet you are so not culturally sensitive. SHAME ON YOU!”
Another user by the name of Lam Swee Lyn shared, “Atria Shopping Gallery don’t you have in place a process that vets shoppers’ comments before its placed on your wishing tree? It’s called managing touch points.”
However, with the flak that Atria Shopping Gallery received, they also had some netizens which stood by them. For instance, Franco Kailsan commented, “Atria is running a business. Being political can jeopardize their business and affect the livelihood of people working there and their families. Atria did the right thing by taking it down. Personal political stand must not mix with work. By mixing politics with work, it makes us no better than those we criticize.”
He added that the purpose of the wishing tree is to foster unity in the community that they operate in. It is not to cause more conflict especially during the Chinese New Year festive season. “There is a time and place for everything. The wish list is not the correct time and place,” he added.
In my honest opinion, both netizens and mall have their reasons as to why the tree should be a festive fixture in Atria. As the tree is meant to bring good cheers to all shoppers, it should remain while it is able to fulfill that. However, if there begins to be some sort of a divide over the wishing tree, than perhaps it was only meant to be there to bring festive cheers for a shorter period of time.