KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — The Year of Golden Ox is celebrated moderately by the Chinese community today by adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (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 kilometres 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, the prayers were held at the Kwan Imm Temple in Klang, and conducted with a strict SOPs and people were seen queuing to take turns as early as 7 am.

The visitors’ movement was monitored by members of the People’s Volunteer Corp (RELA) apart from the sanitation process 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 and most of them came for the prayers.

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 tonight.

Meanwhile, similar situation can also be seen at the Zi Yun Tang Temple, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan as the number of people inside the temple were less than 30 at any one time, in accordance with the SOPs set by the government.

Temple secretariat, Ah Moi Kee, 69, said apart from no dragon and lion dance performances, the temple management also asked visitors to wear face masks and practice physical distancing.

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 Melaka, the Chinese community here celebrated the festival with visiting family members living within 10km radius.

Chief Minister of Melaka’s special secretary of 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.


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