Hon and his wife Lucy at their home in Kuching.
Choo Chong Seng
KUCHING: The Chinese New Year (CNY) is not spared from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, with Chinese families having to tone down the celebration and adhering to all restrictions.
Nonetheless, they accept the present reality that health is far more important than anything else.
Under the standard operating procedures (SOP) for the celebration, any gathering for CNY 2021 would be confined only to close family members.
For Gabriel Hon, 82, and his wife Lucy Wong, 76, it would be a quiet celebration this year as the borders are closed for any entry from those outside Sarawak, on top of the restrictions under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) imposed on Kuching and other parts of the state.
For the recrod, only Sibu is under the MCO.
The Hons have children in Singapore, and a grandson in New Zealand – all of whom would not be here for the celebration.
“Of course, meeting our children is a luxury by itself, but we understand the situation that we all have right now (CMCO and the Covid-19 pandemic).
“It’s the government’s order for CNY celebration this year to be scaled down, we agree on that – it’s a good decision by the government.
“For health’s sake, let us all sacrifice so that next time, there would be a safer Chinese New Year,” said Hon, adding that his children overseas last visited them before the MCO last year.
On the family’s traditional practice of giving away ‘angpows’ (money packets), Hon said he and his wife would give it to their unmarried son and grandson via online banking; the couple would receive ‘angpows’ from their children via online banking as well.
“Make use of the technology that we have; if you receive ‘angpows’ physically (hand-to-hand contact), it’s not safe either,” he said.
One activity that the family would definitely miss would be the lion dance – this performance had always enlivened their neighbourhood at Rock Road in Kuching.
“We never organised one – my neighbour would hold it every year, and we would watch the shows from home; it’s an enjoyable sight. But this year, it’s going to be very quiet. That we will miss,” he said.
Nevertheless, Hon said he was looking forward to welcoming his siblings and in-laws this CNY, but through appointments.
“We do not want a large crowd, so close family members would have to make appointments.
“We have our thermal thermometers ready, as well as the sanitisers at the door – there’ll be no shaking hands, no hugs,” he said.
Just like Hon, Choo Chong Seng regarded the lion dance performance as ‘undoubtedly, one of the most awaited highlights of the CNY ’.
“However, we need to accept the SOP and restrictions with an open heart, as it is all for our own good. Hopefully by playing our part, we could help to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission in our country, and hopefully, we would be able to celebrate a Covid-19-free CNY next year,” said the 28-year-old administrative assistant.
For Celina Chin, 50, the lion dance, ‘angpows’ and open-house visiting had always been part of the local CNY tradition.
“With the present Covid-19 situation, however, it is understandable that CNY 2021 celebration has to be scaled down. It’s not so much of a big issue as we always have low-key celebration, with minimal visiting.
“Still, it’s a bit sad this year as it would the first time that we wouldn’t be able to visit our elderly relatives – those in their 80s, some of whom not in their best health.
“We do not want to expose them to the virus,” said the business development manager.
For David Law, 40, who hails from Miri but is working in Kuching, he has mixed feelings over the matter.
“I wish to celebrate with my family in Miri, as I did the previous year, but I doubt that I could do so this year due to the pandemic.
“Until now, I have not prepared or bought anything for CNY. I’m feeling so down over not being able to be with my loved ones for the celebration, and also no lion dance show this year.
“Furthermore, I need to save more (money) in view that we may not have any bonus or increment this year.
“I’m hoping that this pandemic would end soon and all of us could go back to our normal lives,” said Law, who works as Petronas Dagangan Bhd regional sales (Sarawak) accounts manager.
The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) had decided that CNY 2021 would be observed only on the first day, which is this Feb 12.
It also said CNY visits would be limited to only immediate family members, with a maximum gathering of only 20 people at one time.