Nyonya popo: Differing religions not an obstacle to social harmony

Nyonya popo: Differing religions not an obstacle to social harmony

MALACCA: “Differing religions should not be an obstacle for people to live together in harmony and acceptance,” said a Buddhist grandmother who brought up her Muslim granddaughter for 23 years.

Tan Guan Neo, 75, who is more popularly known as Nyonya Popo, said religious and racial differences which could cause social unrest should be avoided to ensure unity in the country.

“For many, many years, Malaysia has been known for its diverse races and religions. We may not be of the same religion, but we share one nation. Unity is what has made our country strong and unique,” she told Bernama when met at her home in Taman Merdeka here recently.

Nyonya Popo is a mother of five daughters aged between 43 and 54 years, with three of them becoming Muslims, and has 15 grandchildren, 11 of whom are Muslims.

She herself had brought up her granddaughter Fahira Nabilah Isham, the daughter of her youngest daughter Fatin Nasuha Lee, 43, since the former was four months old.

A Peranakan Chinese and a recipient of the Malacca Excellent Mother Award 2015, Nyonya Popo said she was faced with numerous challenges from society in bringing up Fahira Nabilah.

“I have to say it was not easy, because I had to make sure she received her religious education, there were many people who interfered, but I was not daunted, because Prophet Muhammad’s uncle was also not a Muslim but he brought him up with a lot of love.

“What is wrong with me looking after my own flesh and blood,” Nyonya Poo, whose husband died five years after she started taking care of Fahira Nabilah, said.

Today, Fahira Nabilah is a graduate of Universiti Teknologi Mara, with a diploma in computer science, who married Muhammad Asyraf Abd Rahman, 23, last January. — Bernama