KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12  — Despite the absence of the myriad cultural practices, the beginning of the Year of the Ox is still celebrated with joy and happiness with loved ones and close family members.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in East Malaysia in accordance with standard operating procedures (SOP) set following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Not wanting to let COVID-19 dampen their New Year spirits, many are using video calls to reconnect with all the family members.

In SABAH, Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor in his message in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration gave the assurance that the state government assured would always listen to the pulse and needs of all the people in the state including the Chinese community.

For event manager Elaine Han, 29, it was a quiet Chinese New Year this time around without the noisy merriment of gongs, cymbals and drums that accompany the traditional lion dance.

“The lion dance performance is always anticipated to usher in the new year. Each year, I will eagerly wait for the ‘visit’ from lion dance troupes who will perform in front of my house and handed them ang pau packets,” she said.

 Lee Kiong Dragon and Lion Dance Association secretary Mie Mie Lee said despite receiving many invitations to perform, they were left with no other choice but to adhere to the SOP that did not allow cultural activities for this year’s Chinese New Year celebration, including lion and dragon dances, to be held.

“We have also temporarily halted the lion dance training session. Once the COVID-19 threat is contained, we will resume the training session as usual. Currently, all the troupes are doing home-based self-training to hone their skills,” she said.

In SARAWAK, the Chinese community in Kuching ushered in the new year a moderate scale at their homes.

A Bernama check at the Tua Pek Kong and Hiang Thian Siang Ti temples near the Kuching Waterfront here found that both premises were closed to the public.

The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) had previously said that religious ceremonies at temples are only on the first day of Chinese New Year and limited to 12 committee members.


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