Disclaimer: This piece reflects the writer’s opinion and compiled opinions of others on the subject matter. It does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of WORLD OF BUZZ.
On 4 February, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the standard operating procedures (SOP) for Chinese New Year (CNY) and also released new SOPs for business activities where barber’s shops, pasar malam and car wash services are allowed to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
These two announcements have since caused quite a stir among netizens as there are some apparent loopholes in the SOPs that have made the rakyat question the need for these SOPs in the first place.
CNY visitation allowed but cannot go out?
The first issue that netizens are talking about is the SOP that visitation is only allowed for family members from the same household and that reunion dinners can only be held among immediate family members.
Seeing that reunion dinners are supposed to be a REUNION of extended family members that takes place on the eve of CNY and is deemed as one of the most important occasions during the CNY season, many netizens are finding this announcement redundant.
- “This CNY SOP is really funny. I mean for those of you who are living under one roof with parents. You see each other everyday, probably have dinner everyday too. Do we really need SOP for this?”
- “Just say no reunion dinner allowed la? Why would you say reunion dinner is only allowed among family members who live in the same house? Like, do you guys know what reunion dinner is or not? Didn’t a Chinese person help review it before they released it?”
No extended family gatherings but pasar malams are open
Meanwhile, netizens have found a huge loophole in the CNY SOP. Seeing that pasar malams are allowed to operate but visitation is only allowed within the same household, netizens are saying that family members and relatives can just meet at pasar malams.
- “We cannot visit our parents etc even if they stay within a 10km radius, but we probably can meet up at the nearest pasar malam and it wouldn’t be breaching the SOP.”
- “I’m confused with the CNY SOP. It states we only can have reunion dinner with same house family members, but then pasar malam can open. Meaning they are telling us cannot meet family at own house, BUT can meet strangers at pasar malam.”
Lack of knowledge about CNY traditions
Netizens have also criticised the government for their lack of knowledge about CNY traditions and their insensitivity towards the Chinese culture.
For instance, the government said that the CNY SOPs would only be effective 12 to 13 February, which are the first two days of the CNY celebrations. This shows that they have failed to realise that reunion dinners take place on the eve of CNY (11 February).
- “NO reunion dinner allowed on 12-13 CNY. Just proceed with your reunion dinner cause it falls on 11th hahaha”
- “Ehhh, reunion dinners are on Chinese New Year eve. And this is SOP for 12-13th Feb. So can gather on 11th, kan? Maybe they don’t know how CNY works…
A rep from MKN has since released a statement to media sites saying that they have rectified the dates for the CNY SOPs.
“Referring to the MCO development press conference by Senior Minister of Defence Dato ‘Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on 4 February 2021, there is a correction on the effective date of the Chinese New Year Celebration SOP from 12 and 13 February 2021 to 11 and 12 February 2021 to provide space for family reunion dinners.”
Secondly, the MKN website states that activities like “lantern parades” and “Chinese opera performances” are not allowed. But netizens are confused as those aren’t even common activities practised during CNY.
- “The CNY SOP for the MCO made me believe the decision makers have zero knowledge about Chinese culture. Reunion dinner at 12th??? Tanglung and Chinese opera during CNY??? For your record tanglung is for mooncake festival and Chinese opera is for ghost festival.”
- “In the SOP list, it’s also stated that no Chinese opera performances are allowed throughout CNY but we never have Chinese opera performances during CNY.”
MCA speaks up
With netizens questioning where the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has been throughout this whole ordeal, MCA vice-president Ti Lian Ker has come forward with a statement in a Facebook post.
“Someone has made a mistake here . This SOP must be quickly withdrawn and rectified!” he said.
It is believed that MKN has removed the CNY SOPs from their website and social media sites as they cannot be found at the time of writing. We hope they are in the midst of amending the SOPs that are less confusing and with fewer loopholes.
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