IPOH, Feb 6 — With the movement control order (MCO) extended till February 18, some Malaysians are opting for a virtual celebration this Chinese New Year since their annual hometown pilgrimage is now out of the question.

Those interviewed by Malay Mail said the ban on home visits have put a damper on the festivities, forcing them to scale back their initial plans for the reunion dinner this February 11, and relying instead on video calls to family and loved ones for the rest of the long weekend public holiday.

A common wish many shared is for a stable internet connection on that day.

“Since we can’t travel to our hometown this year, we can only meet our family via video call. But for that, the internet line should be good. The connection has been poor lately in my area,” said Jane Lee, a clinical psychologist who hails from Perak but is based in Selangor.

The 24-year-old also said that she is resigned to not attending the traditional reunion dinner with her family on the eve of Chinese New Year as the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up.

“Since this pandemic started, we have missed out on a lot of things, with Chinese New Year family dinner being just one example. We already expected this would happen,” she said.

Chow Lee Li, 30, another Perakian who currently works in Kuala Lumpur, said her siblings have planned a group video call with her parents on the first day of Chinese New Year.

“As we grow older, Chinese New Year has greater significance for us. It is about family coming together, despite the busy lives that we lead during the rest of the year.

“Time never stops, and parents never stop getting older. At the end of the day, we know that companionship and time are the best gifts that we, as children, can give our parents,” she said.

Chow also said that she will miss the Hakka dishes usually prepared by her mother for the occasion.

“We are very traditional, and we always eat at home. We never book a table at a restaurant. Our home on Pangkor Island is more of a village style and I will miss the generous Hakka spread.

“However, we are also planning to have a reunion dinner via video call so that we can feel like we are eating together in one place,” she added.

When asked how she is planning to distribute ang pau, Chow said she will rely on sending the money via bank transfer, as “in my village, Boost or Touch ‘n Go apps are no more popular than automated teller machines (ATM).”


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