CNY reunion dinners in Sarawak not limited to same household as its SOPs are different, says SUPP sec-gen

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By S. Harrish

SARAWAK has a different set of SOPs for Chinese New Year reunion dinners compared to the one announced by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.

SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting told Borneo Post that the SOP drawn up by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) allows up to 20 people at the dinner but it cannot be held in hotels or restaurants.

“SDMC’s SOP for reunion dinner is different,” said Ting, who is the tourism, arts and culture assistant minister.

“It takes into account the families of brothers and sisters, with nephews and nieces, who are living in the same town or city and it would be illogical not to allow them to practise this age-old tradition.”

Ting said Sarawak was allowed to decide its own CNY SOP, indicating that the rules may differ as Sarawak was not bound by the MCO enforced elsewhere.

Ting said SDMC has allowed up to 20 close family members to visit at any one time on the first day of the celebration in the state although open houses for non-family members, house-to-house visits, handshakes and, lion and dragon dances were prohibited.

Also prohibited this year were celebrations at temples or public spaces and the traditional CNY bazaar in open spaces, hotels or shopping malls.

SDMC also requires hosts to prepare a temperature scanner while visiting members must also register with MySejahthera or Qmunity for contact tracing purposes.

Yesterday’s announcement on the CNY SOPs has been widely panned as it limited CNY family reunion dinners and celebration to only members of the same household.

Many asked how different is it going to be compared to their daily dinners as all were already staying in the same house and that the decision lacked cultural sensitivity.

To make matters worse, Ismail Sabri said pasar malam and barber shop can reopen, prompting some to say that reunion dinners should instead be held at such places as they was no limit to the number of people there.

Following the brickbats, the Unity Ministry said it will ask the National Security Council to re-evaluate the CNY SOPs.

Meanwhile Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he was baffled about the furore over the CNY SOPs and found the heavy criticisms and widespread backlash on social media surprising.

He said for CNY celebrations, the national unity ministry had conducted two discussions involving 21 Chinese, Buddhist, Taoist and other relevant religious and cultural bodies before coming up with the SOPs together.

The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) has also denied that it took part in discussions to formulate the controversial SOPs.

In a statement today, Hua Zong president Goh Tian Chuan said they were not invited and did not participated in the talks on Jan 12 and 18.

“Our principle is that the government must respect and maintain the traditional customs of the CNY, including the reunion dinner and the religious ceremony by the families,” he said.