KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations will be devoid of the noisy merriment of gongs, cymbals and drums that accompany the traditional lion and dragon dances as in previous years.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all these mainstay cultural activities witnessed at public gatherings, hotels, shopping malls, and even in some offices and houses, will not be allowed.

Dragon and Lion Dances Federation of Malaysia secretary-general, Yong Kheng Chien, when voicing the concerns and problems faced by performers in the sector, said that although their business was affected almost 100 per cent, they will adhere to the government’s decision.

“Indeed we are afraid that there will be many associations that will go bankrupt because they cannot cover the association’s (operation) costs...but what is more worrying is that the performers’ interest in this skill may wane as there will be no training or requests for performances this time.


“Even if there are (requests), they have to be rejected because of the movement control order (MCO),” he said, when contacted by Bernama today.

Yesterday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that traditional performances and cultural activities for this year’s Chinese New Year celebration such as lion and dragon dances, the lantern parade, Chinese opera performances and stage performances will not be permitted.

Yong, who is also the founder of the Gao Feng Lion and Dragon Dance Athletic Association, based in Melaka and Johor, said that these dances are collaborative activities between dancers, as well as maintaining dance standards, as many associations had brought fame to the country on the international stage.


Yong, who oversees 40 performers, hopes that the government will provide funds or incentives to help more than 1,000 lion and dragon dance teams nationwide.

“Having no income for almost a year since the MCO was implemented in March last year, things have been very difficult to go through.

“This situation and the Covid-19 pandemic are inevitable. We agree with the recommendations of the Health Ministry in view of people’s health but it is hoped that the government will also listen to our voices and give us proper incentives,” he added.

Meanwhile, the founder and head coach of the Kepong-based Kwong Ngai Lion Dance Association, Clement Tan Kee Boon said that he also had to reject and postpone some of the performance bookings.

“Earlier this year, there were bookings but after the MCO was implemented from January 22 to February 4, I had to put a hold on all bookings for a while and will continue until February 18. It looks like we have to wait for the government’s final decision on lion dances after this.

“This is because lion dances are usually held for a period of a month before and after the Chinese New Year. Rarely do we hear of performances held afterwards except for training or competition purposes. There are also hotels asking for quotations for performances, but everything has to be put on hold,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Kota Baru, as many as 10 “lions” belonging to the Xian Long Arts and Culture Organisation, near here, have to be stored well despite receiving invitations from various parties to perform, said the organisation’s leader, Lee Rong Jiang.

Lee said a total of 60 members of the association, which was established in 2011, were forced to take a break and invitations to perform have been rejected. The members will use their their free time to practice their movements in small groups so as not to lose their rhythm and performance skills.

“All performance equipment worth between RM1,600 and RM2,400 has not been used for a long time and has to be stored in glass containers to prevent the fur on the lion’s head (statue) from getting dirty,” he added. — Bernama