Hoping for return to a lively Chingay fest

Dr Wee (second from right) speaking to Ho (second from left) and Lee (left) about the Chingay festival after receiving the memorandum at Johor MCA office.

Organisers of the Chingay festival in conjunction with Chinese New Year are awaiting an answer from the government on whether the century-old event can proceed this year.

Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Associa-tion president Ho Sow Tong said a memorandum on the event was handed over to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

“The memorandum proposes and details several options on how the festival, which marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations for Johoreans, can be held.

“We hope for some good news but at the same time, we also understand that the decision can only be made on a date closer to Chingay, which falls on Feb 21 this year,” he told StarMetro.

On receiving the memorandum, Dr Wee, who is also Transport Minister, said he would bring the matter to the relevant ministry for discussion.

“The organisers have been doing a good job in keeping with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures at the small-scale events held in the last two years, so it should not be an issue,” said Dr Wee, who has attended the Chingay festival many times.

The festival is traditionally celebrated over five days, from the 18th to the 22nd day of the Lunar New Year, with the Chingay procession taking place on the 21st day.

The procession, held along an 8km route in Johor Baru city centre, used to be participated by tens of thousands of devotees who would accompany five deities on a tour to bless the city and its people.

Johor Ancient Temple chairman Lee Poo Sin said the event had been scaled down immensely since 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He hoped that the government would allow the five deities from the 152-year-old temple to be paraded separately in five differently decorated lorries, similar to the event in 2020.

“Last year, the government allowed us to hold only a closed-door event.

“The ceremonies were done within the temple compound, which is understandable as most of the people had yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the time.

“We hope that this year, we can have more floats with lion and dragon dance troupes as well as some musical performances on wheels.

“Since it is a procession, the public will keep moving forward and will be prevented from gathering at one location for a long time,” he said, adding that most people were fully vaccinated while many had also received their booster shot.

Lee stressed that the cultural event that once drew crowds of up to 400,000 should be passed down to the younger generations.

The Chinese community will usher in the Year of the Tiger on Feb 1.

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