Year of Golden Ox celebrated moderately amid MCO

THE Year of Golden Ox is celebrated moderately by the Chinese community today by adhering to the SOPs due to the MCO.

Although this year’s celebration is devoid of lion or dragon dance performances, large fireworks display and open houses, religious activities in the temple and visiting families are still allowed for those living within 10 km radius.

A check by Bernama found that despite the limitations, the Chinese community in the country remained positive and hoped that their sacrifices this time would help break the chain of transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Selangor, prayers were held at the Kwan Yin Temple in Klang, and conducted with a strict SOPs and people were seen queuing as early as 7 am.

The visitors’ movement was monitored by RELA apart from the sanitation process that was conducted every half hour by the Klang Red Crescent Society to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection while maintaining the cleanliness of the temple.

Retired teacher, Cheah Soo Lean, 82, said that this time he did not have to wait too long to enter the temple due to less number of visitors, compared with the previous years.

The Selangor government will also organise virtual Chinese New Year celebration and it will be broadcast on the Selangor Menteri Besar’s Facebook page at 9 pm.

In Kuching, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg participated in the virtual Chinese New Year Open House organised by SUPP today.

In his short speech broadcast on SUPP’s official Facebook page, Abang Johari called on the Chinese community to work together to maintain unity in the efforts to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also asked them to continue to work with the state government to plan good policies to improve Sarawak’s economy as a whole.

In the event which lasted about 30 minutes, Abang Johari and his wife Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang also tossed ‘Yee Sang’ as a symbol of the Chinese New Year celebration.

Also participating in the virtual celebration was the Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also SUPP president.

Meanwhile, in Labuan, quarantine and border closings complicated the Chinese New Year celebrations for the community, but ingenuity, determination and imagination helped keep the day special and meaningful for many.

Local entrepreneur Alex Lee, 40, said that it has been a muted atmosphere, but the celebration goes on, and to boost the holiday spirit he decided to hang a big lantern on his doorway.

He said the celebration should not be dampened by the pandemic but one should continue to spread more hope, peace, joy and love.

“This year we will only have simple family affair, not the usual big clan gathering we normally have during this time of year.

“Our annual tradition with my parents in Kudat, Sabah, did not materialise this year…we did not have the traditional reunion dinner with ‘Yee Sang’. I just contacted my parents via video call as we joined them virtually, but it is not same of being there in person,” he said.

Lee said with the focus was on the pandemic virus, he and his family were preoccupied with guidelines on how to celebrate Chinese New Year this year with family members living in the same household, such as wearing face masks, observe physical distancing and to wash hands frequently.

In Seremban, a similar muted situation was seen at the Zi Yun Tang Temple as the number of people inside the temple were less than 30 at any one time.

A devotee met at the Simpang Kuala Buddhist Temple, Alor Setar, Kedah, Tan Chin Eng, 31, said he and two family members came to the temple at 9 am according to a session set by the management after passing the selection process made earlier.

“There are several prayer sessions conducted from 6 am to 2 pm where each session takes 30 minutes. After one session, the temple will carry out the sanitation process before allowing other groups to enter to pray,” he said.

In Malacca, Chief Minister’s special secretary for Chinese community affairs, Yong Fun Juan, said the state government has also provided assistance and ‘ang pow’ to the less fortunate in the Chinese community to enable them to celebrate the new year in a happy atmosphere.

In Johor Bahru, which is often busy with visitors from Singapore, it is now quiet as the border between Malaysia and Singapore is still closed.

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow through a posting on his official Facebook page, called on the public to take advantage of technology to celebrate the Chinese New Year by using the available applications to communicate with families living in different places.

“Although this new year is celebrated in a new normal, the community should liven up the festive atmosphere and strengthen the family bond using existing technology,” he said.

His sentiment was shared by Kelantan MCA chairman Chua Hock Kuan who said that the technology available should be utilised to connect with family members.

“Technology will allow us to see our beloved faces wearing raya shirt, wishing each other a Happy New Year and sharing videos of eating online to strengthen family ties,” he said.

In Pahang, a check found that there are business and food premises around Kuantan run by the Chinese open even during Chinese New Year day.

According to Ho Shu Joon, kopitiam operator at Jalan Air Putih here, it was normal for him to open business as usual even during the festive season.