Today I woke up, read the news and see how furious our Chinese friends regarding the SOP announced by the government for Chinese New Year celebration.
The SOP announced seems simple; to only have celebration dinner with family living under one roof instead of grand reunion dinner. In the eyes of some of our Chinese friends, this is unacceptable. Believe me, I as a Malay knew it too. It is unfair and out of the tradition.
Allow me to share my story. I am a Johorean who currently reside in northern Malaysia. It has been 2 years since I last celebrated hari raya with my family. To tell you the truth, this is not a new thing for me as I missed several hari raya during my studies while living in Europe 12 years ago. But I admit, the feeling was different. The pain of not allowed to visit the family and can only have our morning feast together through webcam because of the pandemic is more hurtful than I was abroad. This year, I am ready to lose it once again, if it means some lives can be saved.
Some of you are comparing and questioning why the pasar malam is allowed but not the celebration. Don’t you think it is pompous and selfish? They were allowed because they too need to live, it is their source of income. Be it Malay, Chinese, or Indian, we as Malaysian need to take care of each other. We have been living in a way that even a slight differences can be a major friction among us. The Covid-19 came and hit us hard, every person in this land cannot escaped from the reality. Maybe it is the time we take the chance to be more understanding and learn to accept each other?
I know I am not the right person to talk about the culture but from my humble understanding, the grand dinner is just a symbol and merely a tradition that is always can be bent if we want. The love and soul of the celebration is not tied entirely on the dinner but appreciation is. Not only to our small family at home but to the whole family of Malaysian. I am sorry if this sounds disrespectful but this is the fact. A lot of people try to make it as a point of contention and we start blaming each other, let alone the race card.
It is not my intention to backing up the government, it is just my opinion because I know that we are better than this. Because of this pandemic, despite our race, religion or tradition differences, always remember that we are all in this hard time together. Let’s not make it harder.
Part time independent writer and podcaster from Northern Malaysia.