Result of 60 years of racist policy.
The “Reunion Dinner” takes place on Chinese New Year’s Eve, which falls on Feb 11 this year. This is the most important day in the 16 days of the festival. The Chinese community looks forward very seriously to this day. Even if they have to work on this particular day, they will rush for the dinner – the annual feast – for a very important reason.
While the reunion dinner gives elders the opportunity to catch up on how their children and grandchildren are doing, the most important aspect of the get-together meal of the entire year has everything to do with culture. There’s a reason why this Chinese tradition has been observed for generations. This is the day when family members reaffirm the love and respect that binds them together.
Therefore, family reunions, such as the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, are important for those who work elsewhere and are far away from their families. Not only the reunion dinner typically consists of many symbolic “lucky” dishes for a better fortune of the year, the spirits of the ancestors are invited to join the celebration as a sign of respect before the reunion dinner started.
Whether the meal is cooked and eaten at home or enjoyed at a restaurant, all members of the family, old and young, poor and rich, male and female, attend the feast. Dating back more than 4,000 years in the history of Chinese culture and civilization, the family reunion dinner is indeed an indispensable dinner. In China, people will travel for days just for this dinner.
Nobody expects a non-Chinese to understand the significance of the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, especially a minister like “Turtle Egg” Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who has been a member of the racist and corrupt political party UMNO. For more than 60 years under the previous Barisan Nasional, and now Perikatan Nasional coalition, the Malaysian Chinese are treated as second-class citizens.
But even if he was too racist and arrogant to understand, let alone respect the culture of the minority ethnic in Malaysia, he should at least be able to differentiate between a normal family dinner and a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner. After all, UMNO leaders have been attending “Lou Sang”, one of the traditions and food served over at reunion dinners.
However, when Ismail announced the new standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Chinese New Year celebrations on Thursday (Feb 4), it not only shocked the Chinese community, but it was so illogical that the backdoor government of Muhyiddin was mocked and ridiculed. It says reunion dinners must be held only at home and are limited to family members living under the same roof.
To the half-past-six ministers, deputy ministers and politicians, the SOP might sound brilliant. But to others who possess an ounce of intelligence, the SOP is a humiliation to a species called “homo sapiens”. The SOP assumes, hilariously, that the same family members had been eating separately at four corners of the house for the entire year until the coming reunion dinner.
You don’t need a rocket scientist to see how ridiculous the SOP is. People actually can accept the SOP, including giving this year’s reunion dinner a miss due to the Coronavirus pandemic – if it makes sense and is fair. But does it make sense to blacklist children or family members who live nearby to attend the dinner when pasar malam (night markets) and mosques are open to all and sundry?
Yes, people have joked that the workaround is to have the reunion dinners at night markets because according to the genius government’s astonishing theory, the night markets or supermarkets are somehow safer than private homes. Children would deliberately poison their parents and grandparents when attending the reunion dinner, but total strangers at night markets would not.
Even children who live next door, or in the same apartment or condominium, or even within the same village, which is obviously within the 10 kilometres radius restriction as per current MCO lockdown SOP, are disallowed to join their families for the reunion dinner. Heck, they can’t even visit their elders, let alone have the important get-together meal.
In fact, even the disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak has joined the public criticism against the incredibly screwed-up SOPs announced by Ismail.
In reality, even if the SOP has been professionally drafted to allow the Chinese community to visit their elders during the reunion dinner, not everyone would do so. As much as the reunion dinner is an important affair, the Chinese have the wisdom to decide if it’s worth the risk of exposing their elderly families or relatives to the Covid-19.
The Chinese New Year SOP was also unfair because, during last year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri SOP, the government had allowed a family to receive up to 20 people per day for Raya visits. Muslims were also allowed to perform prayers at the mosques and surau, unlike the ban on visits to the temple by the Chinese community during the coming festival, not that the Chinese will definitely do so even if allowed to.
At best, the incompetent Ismail is ignorant and insensitive. At worst, the backdoor government is racist. After more than 60 years, whoever designed the SOP had no idea that the reunion dinner actually happens on Chinese New Year’s Eve, which is Feb 11. But the SOP stated Feb 12 and 13. Still, despite the criticism, the arrogant Ismail becomes very defensive.
Unable to lose face, the clueless senior minister claimed it was not his fault. Instead of taking responsibility like a good leader, he blamed associations and bodies that represent the ethnic Chinese community who prepared the SOPs. He said the National Security Council adopts recommendations made by the National Unity Ministry when preparing the SOPs for religious or cultural celebrations.
National Unity Minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique conveniently claims the SOP was the result of careful consideration after consulting as many as 21 Chinese-based organizations. Perhaps she should publish the list of all the 21 organizations. Had there been a zero-racist policy from the beginning, you don’t need a National Unity Ministry to understand each other’s culture and traditions. – Finance Twitter