KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — DAP’s Lim Guan Eng today added his voice to the growing chorus of ridicule for the government’s questionable Chinese New Year standard operating procedures (SOP) announced yesterday.
The DAP secretary-general called on the government to review and revise the latest set of regulations, saying the decision to issue such SOPs was insensitive and disrespectful to the Chinese community.
Lim even asserted that the SOPs demonstrate the government’s apparent disconnect from reality, ridiculing the decision to ban families, even those residing within the same district, from gathering for the customary reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve, but green-lighting activities like night markets (pasar malam).
The Bagan MP also said the government’s decision to issue SOPs for only the first and second day of Chinese New Year, which coincides with February 12 and 13, and includes the ban on reunion dinner gatherings, only underscores the administration’s ignorance of the festivities and how they are celebrated.
“The government even said that family visits are only allowed for family members living within the house.
“Are the Cabinet ministers so detached and disconnected from reality that they do not realise that the SOPs make no sense and make Malaysians look silly?
“It is ridiculous that pasar malam are allowed but not family visits merely because they live in different houses within the same district.
“If my parents live down the road, are they supposed to celebrate and eat alone, and cannot be visited by their family members? This is going to be a lonely and empty CNY for many senior citizens,” Lim wrote in a statement today.
Lim’s comments are just one of many that have bombarded the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government since the Chinese New Year SOPs were announced by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.
The government also faced similar criticism from its own lawmakers. Deputy National Unity Minister Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, who sits in the ministry that was responsible for providing input for the SOPs, said the government had made a “mistake” when announcing the new rules.
Ti even asserted the SOPs should be “quickly withdrawn and rectified”, without actually pointing out what the supposed mistakes were.
Ti, however, is not a member of the National Security Council, who was responsible for finalising the SOPs.
Lim in his statement today also questioned the government’s decision to only allow five members from temple committees to attend Chinese New Year prayers, pointing out the inconsistency with some houses of worship allowed to host more devotees.
“Unless this wrong SOP is corrected, CNY home celebrations are effectively banned in preference to celebrations in pasar malam,” he said, adding the government’s decisions were testament to its failure to consult all parties involved.
“There is something very wrong and surreal about a government that relies on a proclamation of emergency and suspension of Parliament to remain in power, on the pretext of containing the surge of Covid-19 infections that they were responsible for mismanaging until Malaysia is now the worst in Asean.
“The latest SOPs reveal again the frightening incompetency of the present government in managing the Covid-19 public health and economic crisis,” Lim added.
Lim’s party colleagues, including the likes of his father Lim Kit Siang, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming, and Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei, have all voiced their dismay with the SOPs.
Some even joked about exploiting certain loopholes in the SOPs, like meeting up for the reunion dinner at the pasar malam, or turning their home into a salon to be able to host guests.
This after Ismail Sabri, when announcing the set of SOPs yesterday said home visits — which had been allowed during festivals last year — will not be allowed during this Chinese New Year, even as he announced the reopening of more economic sectors, including hair salons, barber shops and car wash outlets beginning today.