Take it slow and steady, like the ox

Close watch: Kpl Mohd Zuraidi Rosli (right) and L/Kpl Mohd Fazrol Mohammad from IPD Serdang ensuring customers abide by the SOP at a shop in Taman Puncak Jalil in Kuala Lumpur. Police have stepped up enforcement following a sharp spike in new Covid-19 cases. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Major Chinese groups in the country have implored those celebrating the Lunar New Year next month to restrict their visits and gatherings in view of the four-figure number of daily Covid-19 infections.

Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said it is a must for all to prioritise lives and public health.

“We must be vigilant and responsible while celebrating, especially if we have children and the elderly at home. So, for all who are marking the Lunar New Year, we must follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) to flatten the curve again, ” he said yesterday.

Huazong is the umbrella body consisting of 15 Chinese Assembly Halls from each state and federal territory.

Over 10,000 Chinese associations and groups currently registered in the country are direct members of these assembly halls and indirect members of Huazong, focusing on issues related to Chinese culture, education, socioeconomy and the grassroots.

Goh said many Chinese organisations and groups in the states would not be organising their annual get-togethers like before.

On the national level, he said they were considering the possibility of scaling down the annual event or having the get-together via teleconferencing.

He also suggested that celebrants send virtual greetings or give out e-angpow “as long as it is acceptable to both sides”.

“These are some new norms we can adapt to positively amid this pandemic, ” he added.

As for those who cannot go back to their hometowns, he suggested virtual reunion dinners since travelling and physical contact should be minimised.

“It is similar to having couples registering their marriage or having their weddings online, where everyone is able to take part despite being physically distant, ” he said.

For the elderly who may not be tech-savvy, Goh said the younger generation could help them out, which could then forge a closer bond between them.

As for the all-important reunion dinner, it could still be a grand affair as restaurants are all geared up to offer festive takeaways.

From Hainanese chicken rice to fancy sets of pun choy (a traditional dish to symbolise prosperity), Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants & Chefs Association honorary chairman Datuk Lum Tuck Loy said restaurants were ready to accept pre-orders.

“It has been a challenging year for many but it is important to still celebrate Chinese New Year, no matter if you are rich or poor.

“Many of our members have come up with various CNY reunion packages with ‘friendly pricing’ to choose from, ” he said.

Lum added that customers could opt for self-pickup or delivery.

He noted that braised dishes such as braised pork belly and braised chicken and mushroom are popular choices for takeaways as the taste is maintained without compromising the food texture even after some time.

Persatuan Restoran Ku Su Shin Choong Hung vice-president Datuk Ringo Kaw said that eateries were prioritising public health and safety amid the festivities.

“We are encouraging our members to do takeaways and deliveries and to arrange for food from the restaurant to be brought to customers’ houses.

“Many people are thinking of having their reunion dinner at home or having a small party for close family members only.

“You can’t deny the fact that businesses of restaurants will surely be affected. But we will try to survive and break even, ” he said.

While restaurant operators are planning for simple Chinese New Year celebrations, Kaw said they are preparing unique menus and offerings to attract customers.

“We are trying to come up with nutritious, healthy food. For example, the Chinese believe that good soup can boost your immune system, ” he said.

In Penang, Hock Teck Cheng Sin Temple chairman Datuk Chong Hut Hoo said lanterns will be lit along several roads in George Town, but there will be no special ceremony to mark the occasion.

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