Govt ignorance of Chinese culture makes community see red

The Chinese community in this country is resigned to the fact that we will not be celebrating Chinese New Year this year.

And we are fine with it. The celebrations can wait.

Obviously, we would have preferred to be allowed to at least have reunion dinners with family members who live within the 10km radius.

But I suppose the powers that be know what they are doing. After all, the Movement Control Order is in effect.

What has got the Chinese community riled up is how insensitive and how culturally incompetent the authorities are regarding the lunar new year and the practices of the community.

And this came in the form of SOPs set by the National Security Council on the celebrations this year.

For the record, reunion dinners are held on the eve of the celebrations (on Feb 11) and not on the first and second day of the New Year (Feb 12 and Feb 13).

It’s an occasion where relatives gather and dine together. The feast is extremely important to the Chinese and all family members must be present. Symbolically, it is even more important than the first day of the celebration.

According to the NSC, the playing of tanglung (lanterns) and watching of opera is prohibited.

Reality check: Who plays tanglung or watches opera during CNY?

The tanglung is displayed during the moon cake festival. It falls on Sept 21 this year.

Traditionally, Chinese opera is the main source of entertainment during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Newsflash! No one watches opera these days!

Careless? No input from Chinese ministers or civil servants in drawing up the SOPs? Just don’t care? No Chinese friends to refer to?

We have been an independent nation for 64 years. And the announcement by the government yesterday shows we still have a long way to go in understanding each other better.

Ignorance on the culture and celebrations of Malaysians can no longer be an excuse.

And this applies for every ethnic group of Malaysians, not just the Chinese.

We are now reaping the fruits of our ignorance and disrespect for others, and the results are damaging.

If we can’t get the basics right, I wonder how major policy decisions in this country are being decided upon.

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