M'sia imposes restrictions during CNY period to fight Covid-19, but critics say rules make 'little sense'

The National Unity Ministry will appeal to the National Security Council.

Sulaiman Daud | February 05, 2021, 06:06 PM

Malaysia announced further restrictions to fight the spread of Covid-19, some of which specifically affects the Chinese community and the upcoming Chinese New Year festive period.

Malaysiakini cited Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who announced on Feb. 4 that celebrations will be limited to families who live together.

This means there will be no visits from house to house, and interdistrict and interstate travel remains forbidden.

Earlier, the Malaysian government had announced a Movement Control Order that will last until Feb. 18, for all states in the federation except Sarawak.

The measures specifically affecting Chinese New Year festivities include:

  • Temple prayers are prohibited except for up to five members of the temple's committee.
  • Other members of the Chinese community are encouraged to pray at home instead.
  • Lion dances, Chingay parades and opera performances are prohibited.

Ismail said that these measures were similar to the ones imposed during the previous year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali celebrations when the previous Movement Control Order was in effect.

National Unity Ministry to make an appeal

Following the announcement, and after collecting feedback from members of the community, the National Unity Ministry said it will appeal to the National Security Council to review the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

According to the Malay Mailcritics said the SOPs made "little sense".

For example, house visits are barred, but pasar malams (night markets) are still allowed to operate.

The Ministry stated that the SOPs were drawn up after consultations with 21 "religious, cultural, and relevant Chinese-based organisations".

Malaysia has seen burgeoning numbers of Covid-19 cases, with Feb. 4 seeing 4,571 new cases and 17 deaths.

Top image by Ravin Rau via Unsplash.