KUALA LUMPUR - Catholic church officials were told to remove crucifixes and to avoid singing hymns during Prime Minister Najib Razak's attendance of a Christmas tea party hosted by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.
The overzealous bid to protect the Prime Minister's credentials was described by sources familiar with what happened as "paranoid" and done without Mr Najib's knowledge.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Mr Najib's men may have been spooked by the National Fatwa Council's recent repeated announcements over Muslims at non-Muslim celebrations and had tripped over themselves to ensure his attendance at the tea party passed without a hitch.
It was the first time Mr Najib was attending a Christian function in his official capacity since taking over power in April last year.
Mr Najib has been instrumental in bringing the leaders of different faiths to the same table earlier this year to try and peacefully resolve long-standing interfaith disputes after a series of attacks against houses of worship nationwide.
The violence erupted following a controversial court ruling allowing Christians to also use the word "Allah" to refer to God beyond the Muslim context.
Sources noted that Mr Najib's aides had little to be anxious about as the party was held outdoors in several marquees where religious paraphernalia were the least likely to be fixed.
"They were overly fearful but there was nothing for them to be fearful about," a source pointed out, dismissing Mr Najib's aides as being too "paranoid".