Keeping it muted but meaningful

Shoppers buying pink buns, pumpkins and gourds, new shoes and fish at Chowrasta market in George Town.

THAT all-important reunion feast for the Chinese community will be a different one this year as many families abide by the movement control order (MCO).

All families interviewed report scaled-down affairs, while some singles whose hometowns are elsewhere are prepared to have that feast with only their housemates.

For 34-year-old market trader Lau Meng Kooi, the annual family affair at his home in Paya Terubong, Penang, which would have seen over 20 people gathered, will only have 13 tonight.

“Only close family members including my mother, wife, two children, elder sister, her two

children and few relatives will come together for a steamboat meal.

“We have other relatives who live within 10km but they will not come to prevent crowding,” said Lau, who is one of three siblings.

He said his other sister, who works in Johor but is back in Penang due to the MCO, will not join him to keep their numbers low.

Housewife Helen Chan, 50, said this year’s reunion would only involve her and her two daughters as her husband is working in Vietnam.

“Normally, we would drive down to Melaka for the reunion dinner at my husband’s family home,” she said.

Company executive Yvonne Ng, 28, who is from Taiping, Perak, and works in Penang, said she and her three housemates were all set to have their own feast.

“We’ll cook fish maw soup with extra large prawns as the main dish and a few other goodies for Chinese New Year eve.

“It is not a reunion dinner at all since we live in the same house but we just want to enjoy a good meal together for the sake of it.

“I taught my parents how to do video calls using Whatsapp and we will do that after the dinner.

“Actually, I don’t mind not going home for Chinese New Year. I don’t want to accidentally bring the virus back to my parents.

“I will go home the moment interstate travel is allowed again,” she said.

On Sunday, the Government announced that family reunion dinners for Chinese New Year is allowed for up to 15 family

members living within a 10km radius without interstate or inter-district travel.

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