Why was there an outcry over the CNY SOP?


By Chloe.HB.Siao

We get it. We know that the standard operating procedures (SOP) are put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 and everyone wants the pandemic to end, permanently.

Before the initial Movement Control Order (MCO) SOP announcement for the Chinese New Year (CNY) 2021 celebration was made on 4 February, the Chinese community have braced ourselves to celebrate CNY, the MCO style.

Conversations between family members and friends revolve around how it will be different this year. We will not be visiting our family members and friends. There will be no reunion of any sorts. We have already started sending CNY goodies and treats, home-baked goods among others via our ever helpful Abang Lala or Abang Grab riders.

However, a nationwide outcry emerged right after the first announcement by Senior Minister (Security Cluster), Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri. People started slamming how outrageous the SOP were. Politicians from both the government and opposition joined forces, Chinese associations, which the government had called in for a meeting earlier claimed that they have not been consulted on the decision and many claimed that the decision announced was different from the consensus reached during the meeting. Celebrities and Malaysians of multi-races took the social media to ridicule the SOP.

Everyone knew what was to come but why the sudden outcry? The answer could lie in timing, choice of words and comparison.

The initial SOP of ‘only allowed to visit family members living under the same roof and have reunion dinner with family members living under the same roof’ on ‘12 and 13 February 2021’ left many people puzzled.

Nobody have reunion dinner on the first and second day of CNY. The reunion dinner is always held on the new year eve, which is on 11 February this year. Visiting family members under the same roof? Like… how? From the living room to the garden and then to the dining room? The government could just say, no visits allowed. You may celebrate and do whatever you want as long as you don’t leave your front door instead.

It also came in an untimely fashion of allowing the night markets to operate. Hence, it became the capital of a heated conversation on how reopening the night market is more logical than allowing reunion dinner among limited amount of family members within the 10km radius?

While not allowing prayers in the temples, at the same time, the numbers of congregation for congregational prayers in the mosques are being expanded with some, up to 500 pax at one time? This simply opened another can of worms.

Netizens calling the Chinese community demanding and spoiled do not help either. War of words flew across the social media.The double standards and differences have opened opportunities for criticisms, even among people who have prepared for a quiet CNY, MCO style in the first place?

Personally, people around me have been prepared to spend CNY at home, embrace the quality time with close family members, planned out home-based activities and even saving a whole lot of ang pow money. These people too, joined in the conversations and condemned the government over the SOP when they never intended to leave their home in the first place.

Perhaps, the people won’t ridicule the SOP that much if the government had instead announced for everyone just stay at home and delay the announcements on the reopening of night market and mosques to perhaps a week or two.

With the nationwide outcry, a revised SOP was made and announced on 7 July 2021. While a large number of people find the revised version has more logic, as it is almost the same with the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Aidiladha, Deepavali & Christmas celebrations. At the same time, netizens are also condemning the government for ‘giving too much face’ to the Chinese community.

You can never please everyone especially in a multi-racial nation. It could save the government a lot of trouble doing u-turns and revisions if they time the announcements properly & not announcing too many things at once, which provided opportunities for scrutiny.

Personally, I will be spending my CNY with three other family members who are living under the same roof. I don’t welcome visitors and I won’t be visiting any either. I’m not a snob but it’s enough for us to virtual calls & send delicacies around. I also will not be visiting any temples nor the night markets. However, I will send my car for a wash, externally. MG

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