KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysians are poking fun by suggesting that they should take their Chinese New Year celebration to the “pasar malam” following the Government’s announcement which allows only families from the same household to host “reunion” dinners despite permitting night markets to operate.
In questioning the logic of the standard operating procedure (SOP) under the movement control order (MCO), opposition MP Teng Chang Kim said it was “crazy” that some sectors are allowed to operate but family members are barred from meeting.
“Factories, markets, night markets, hypermarkets et cetera are allowed to open, but family members living within a radius of 10km are not allowed to have reunion dinner. Crazy!” he said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Feb 4).
“Let’s have our reunion dinner and visit each other at pasar malam!” he added.
Popular content creator Jinny Boy also took a dig, pointing out that he has been celebrating Chinese New Year all his life.
“This Chinese New Year, you can only visit your family members within the same household? I’ve been celebrating CNY since I was born yo, all day every day,” he said on Thursday on Twitter. “Reunion dinner, cannot. Pasar Malam, can. Pasar Malam Reunion Cluster coming soon…”
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday announced that only families living in the same house are allowed to have their customary dinner after taking into consideration Malaysia’s growing Covid-19 cases, prohibiting people from returning home for the two-day holidays.
House-to-house visits, as well as cross-border travel, are also not allowed.
However, Datuk Seri Ismail said the government is easing up restrictions on economic sectors like night market traders, hairdressers and barbers, allowing them to reopen for business after considering their pleas.
This drew various reactions, even from Deputy National Unity Minister Ti Lian Ker who said on Twitter on Thursday: “Someone has screwed up totally here. This SOP must be quickly withdrawn and rectified. This is not an SOP but a forbidden city.”
Democratic Action Party lawmaker Muhammad Shakir Ameer was also perplexed at the rationale behind the decision.
He said: “How is opening up pasar malam less dangerous than family gatherings? Families might as well gather in the pasar malam just to spend time with each other.”
Funny memes related to the announcement have also been making their rounds on social media, with one showing a picture of a lok lok steamboat truck being the “reunion dinner theme” for this year’s Chinese New Year.
Another picture circulating online is of a Chinese family giving out hongbaos with a night market as the background.
Twitter user chihohoho joked: “This CNY, for the first time ever, my house won’t be hosting any reunion dinner or open house. I’ll be hosting a pasar malam. Lai lai lai!”