Don’t issue Chinese New Year SOPs at eleventh hour, govt urged

Chinese New Year 220111

A year ago, the government showed its ignorance of Chinese culture when it released the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Among the strange decisions were that reunion dinners could only involve those in the same household.

It was also prohibited to play tanglung (lanterns), and watch Chinese opera – two things not associated with the Chinese New Year.

The SOPs were released a week before the eve of the celebrations and wreaked havoc on numerous households and restaurant operators.

This year, Malaysian Chinese Cultural Society president Chong Ah Kow urged the government to release the SOPs as soon as possible.

“Health and safety should take priority during the occasion,” said Chong.

“If we can only hold a small celebration, so be it. But I would like to know early, as the reunion dinner is an integral part of Chinese culture.

“Normally, we would want every family member to return home for the meal. With Covid-19 still an issue, this may not be possible.

“Chinese New Year is three weeks away. I hope the government can issue the SOPs soon, so those celebrating can make the necessary arrangements.”

Chinese restaurants traditionally hold Chinese New Year reunion dinner specials and need to know if they can start preparing for them.

The Penang government announced yesterday that there would be no state-level open house for the second year running after several Omicron cases were detected in the state.

“Penang did the right thing. Why take the chance? It is not necessary to have big gatherings,” said Chong.

“We can celebrate online. Just get the SOPs out early, so family members know what to do.”

Meanwhile, marketing executive Andy Tan said he was looking forward to the reunion dinner after missing it last year.

“I hope to make it back, but have not bought my ticket to Seremban,” said Tan, who works in Kota Kinabalu.

“My leave is approved, but I am waiting to see what the government says about SOPs for the reunion dinner.

“I will have a simple celebration with my family in Kota Kinabalu if we cannot fly home.”

Separately, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said in a press statement the Health Ministry met the stakeholders to study the final stage of the SOPs for Thaipusam on Jan 18 and Chinese New Year on Feb 1.

He added an announcement would be made soon.