PETALING JAYA: As Malaysians come together as a nation to celebrate Chinese New Year, politicians from both sides of the divide are putting aside politics to prioritise unity and peace.
Ministers and deputy ministers from Pakatan Harapan, most of whom who are back in their hometowns and villages, said that it is a time for meeting family members and friends who they have had little time for due to their busy schedules.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said that it does not matter which party you belong to, because in the spirit of welcoming the festival, one should not talk politics during the festivities and welcome everyone.
Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau, whose party’s open house will be attended by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said celebrations should not be politicised as unity is the utmost priority, regardless of political affiliations.
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said that Chinese New Year meant a family reunion in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur.
“I will celebrate with my family and give ang pow to parents and family members, ” said Kok, who has been doing the pre-Chinese New Year rounds handing out goodies to her constituents in Seputeh.
Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that Chinese New Year activities started days prior to the actual celebration with constituents in Batu Sapi, Sabah.
“I gave away rice and ang pow to about 2,000 pensioners in my constituency in the past few days but yesterday, I returned to Kota Kinabalu for the reunion dinner with my siblings and extended family, before returning to Putrajaya, ” said Liew.
He stressed the need to stay united as he posted a group of sitar players strumming out a Chinese New Year song.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye will be having a low-key celebration this Chinese New Year.
“I am in Ipoh at my children’s home for the family reunion dinner, and then in Segamat and back to Putrajaya,
“What I look forward to most is seeing all races celebrate the festivities, ” said Dr Lee.
For Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, her family in Batu Pahat has a “unique tradition” for reunion.
“Instead of a reunion dinner, we have a reunion lunch.
“Even though I am part of the ruling government now, nothing much has changed in the way I celebrate Chinese New Year with my family and friends, ” said Teo, who is Kulai MP.
She also advised children throughout the nation to spend the Chinese New Year spending time with relatives and friends, and cutting down on “gadget-time”.
Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming would be spending much of the festival catching up on his fitness regime, filing away business cards and catching up on podcasts.
“As much as I look forward to doing the three things, it would be difficult to put aside politics, as many of my relatives would be asking about the state of the country, ” said Ong.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Sim Tze Sin fondest memories are of making kuih kapit with his extended family in Georgetown.
Sim said that the festival is a time to ensure that his children get to know the older family members back in the hometown.
“I would be busy today, so, the reunion dinner was the most important affair, ” said Sim, stressing politics should not be dwelt on such a day.
Dr Wee, whose family reunion dinner was in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, said it is important that festivals are apolitical.
“I invited 222 of the MPs from all parties for the MCA open house today, for it is a time to celebrate together.
“This is Malaysia, where festivals are celebrated by all ethnic groups and all races, ” said Wee.
He pointed out Chinese New Year had “come early” being in January and it can be hard for Malaysians to fork out much right after spending for the end of the year (for school-going children).
“Chinese New Year is about the spirit of togetherness – we don’t talk politics – we forget about this for now in the spirit of unity, ” said Dr Wee.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said he is looking forward to attending MCA’s open house, for being with all races for any festival is a unique Malaysian tradition to be proud of.
Lau said that as much as he was excited about Dr Mahathir attending the Gerakan open house today, he feels one needs to see the bigger picture, beyond politics.
“By Dr Mahathir accepting the invitation as head of the government he is putting unity first, no matter how we differ in political opinion.
“Let’s respect the day, ” said Lau.