JOHOR BARU: Although the annual Chingay celebrations have been scaled down significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event is still described as meaningful under the new norm.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said that this celebration used to attract between 300,000 and 400,000 people annually.
“However, due to the pandemic, it has been scaled down.
“But I will like to congratulate the Johor Baru Chinese federation and the five clans for their effort in conducting the event in a simplified and smaller scale while adhering to the SOPs set by the National Security Council,” he said, after attending prayers at the Johor Ancient Temple along Jalan Trus here Thursday (March 4).
Among the SOPs were ensuring a limited number of devotees, having temperature checks and hand sanitisers, and frequent sanitisation of the temple.
Dr Wee, who has been attending Chingay celebrations since his university days, said that this was the most significant event for the Chinese community in Johor Baru.
“The spirit of togetherness and unity among the five clans is truly reflected in the Chingay procession, which has been going on for the past 150 years,” he said, adding that this cannot be found in other cities.
The annual Chingay procession, which would have been its 151th time this year, has been called off this year in view of the high number of Covid-19 infections.
The festival, celebrated on the 18th to 22nd day of the Lunar New Year, includes a grand procession along an 8km route where devotees carry the five clan deities - Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and Hainan - on palanquins for a tour of the city centre.
The procession was supposed to take place on March 4 this Year of the Ox, which is equivalent to the 21st day of the Lunar New Year.
Aside from lion and dragon dances and cultural performances, other highlights of the procession include colourful and creative floats, fireworks and stunts involving giant flag poles.
On a separate issue on the appointment of new village heads in Johor, Dr Wee said any issues should be discussed and negotiated among the political partners.
Dr Wee said he believed that Johor Menri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad would be able to resolve the issue.
He was asked to comment on Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders expressing their unhappiness with Umno over the appointment of village heads in the state.
The leaders claimed that they were not consulted and most of the heads were from Umno.
Dr Wee said that MCA had also submitted its list for new village heads and negotiations were ongoing.
“We cannot be appointing heads just for the sake of fulfilling the quota.
“We also cannot appoint a head from Village A to Village B when the person does not live there,” he said, adding that when people need help, they will have difficulties in looking for the village head.
Dr Wee added that fundamental issues needed to be resolved before these appointments are made.