PETALING JAYA: It was a modest yet meaningful Chinese New Year celebration for Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who was among many who had to forgo the balik kampung trip to have the traditional reunion dinner with family.
"It is mandatory for us to return home to be with my mother for the reunion dinner but we were not able to do so this year due to the pandemic.
"Instead, I had dinner with family here and there were only four of us as my other siblings held their own dinner in their respective homes.
"Nevertheless, I managed to talk to my mother and other siblings as we were able to communicate with each other virtually and through WhatsApp.
"Although we miss being with the family, it is important that we take care and remain safe," the MCA president said during a virtual interview aired on MHI-TV3 in conjunction with Chinese New Year on Friday (Feb 12).
Dr Wee, who is also Transport Minister, added that although Covid-19 restrictions had somewhat put a damper on the festive mood, it is not a constraint for family members to remain virtually connected with each other under the new norm.
He said that no one expected the pandemic to last so long, noting that Covid-19 has since affected major celebrations of the nation's diverse communities.
"SOP processes had previously affected celebrations such as Hari Raya Aidi Fitri, Deepavali. Christmas and has now completed the circle by affecting Chinese New Year also," he added.
Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 SOP, Dr Wee said that there is a growing awareness among the rakyat of the importance of breaking the chain of infection through such restrictions.
"There are positive signs of such awareness as I have noticed that the older folks in the villages are beginning to understand why their children are not able to return home so as to protect them.
"Some have even told their children not to return home," he said.
Asked on the effect of the pandemic on lion dance troupe performances, Dr Wee acknowledged that it had put a stop to the customary traditional performances usually seen to usher in good luck during the festive period.
"It has become mandatory for MCA to have lion and dragon dance performances at its Chinese New Year Open House celebrations and we have been doing this for more than 20 years.
"But the celebration was cancelled this year due to the pandemic SOP," he said, noting that the Health Ministry's SOP was against activities with physical contact aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
He expressed confidence that such performances will continue to be part of the festive tradition once the Covid-19 situation eases.
Being the Year of the Ox, Dr Wee called on the rakyat to emulate the virtues of the Ox which are strength, diligence and steadfastness, loyalty.
"These virtues are synonymous with the Ox and bring significant meaning for us this year as the nation and economy face huge challenges due to Covid-19," he said.
Dr Wee said that the rakyat must unite and remain committed throughout the year ahead to help overcome the pandemic.