JOHOR BARU: Although the annual Chingay celebration here has been scaled down significantly due to Covid-19, it is still being observed in a meaningful manner, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
“I would like to congratulate the Johor Baru Chinese Federation and the five clans for their effort in still conducting the event in a simplified and smaller scale while adhering to the standard operating procedure set by the National Security Council, ” he said after attending prayers at the Johor Ancient Temple along Jalan Trus here.
Commenting on the event that used to attract between 300,000 and 400,000 people annually here, Dr Wee, who has been attending Chingay celebrations since his university days, said this was the most significant event for the Chinese community in Johor Baru.
The Chingay Parade is an annual street parade held in Penang and Johor Baru, as well as in Singapore, that celebrates the birthdays of the Chinese deities or the procession of the Goddess of Mercy as part of the Chinese New Year festivities.
Modern versions of this parade have become increasingly multiracial in nature.
“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, ” Dr Wee said, adding that such a template could not be found in other cities.
It was reported earlier that this year’s Chingay procession, which would have marked its 151th anniversary, had to be called off in view of the high number of Covid-19 infections.
The festival, celebrated from the 18th to 22nd day of the Lunar New Year, includes a grand procession along an 8km route, where devotees carry the deities associated with the various clans – Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and Hainan – on palanquins for a tour of the city centre.
This year, the procession was supposed to take place on March 4, the 21st day of the Lunar New Year.
Aside from lion and dragon dances and cultural performances, highlights of the procession include colourful and creative floats, fireworks, and stunts involving giant flagpoles.
On the issue surrounding the appointment of new village heads in Johor, Dr Wee said such issues should be discussed among the various political partners.
Asked to comment on local Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders who are unhappy with Umno over the appointment of village heads
in Johor, he said he believed that Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad would be able to resolve the issue.
The Bersatu leaders claimed they were not consulted, and most of the heads were from Umno.
Dr Wee said that MCA 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 be appointing a head from Village A to Village B when the person does not live there, ” he said, adding that when people need help, they would have difficulties reaching the village head.
Dr Wee stressed that fundamental issues needed to be resolved before these appointments were made.