KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 ― After two years of muted celebrations Kuala Lumpur was a hive of activity on the first day of Chinese New Year (CNY) yesterday, as throngs of tourists as well as locals headed out for some much-needed festive cheer.
Malay Mail observed Chinese temples began to see worshippers as early as 7am with devotees paying their respects under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs). Many of them expressed relief and confidence to go out due to the high vaccination rates.
At the Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malay Mail met Chow Zi Xuen, 22, who was not able to pray there last year as she and her family feared getting infected. This year, she is more confident that the SOPs in place would help them avoid an outbreak.
“We didn’t plan to visit any relatives as we’re still afraid of the pandemic but we would love to come and pray and after this, we’ll go home,” she said when met.
Lau Wei Han, 48, said this year’s celebrations were better than last year’s as there was no movement control order (MCO) that restricted Malaysians from crossing state borders.
“Last year the MCO was on so I couldn’t visit relatives more than 10km away. This year we could visit our families and have the reunion dinner so this year is definitely better than last.
“We hope the pandemic can be improved so most of the people can return to their normal lives. I’m planning to visit some relatives to catch up. They are adamant on SOPs. Some friends are also very strict about this and adhere to these SOPs which I am more than happy to do,” he said when met.
Devotees were streaming in at a steady pace at the temple with authorities doing a good job of ensuring distancing and also so that devotees do not linger too long at the premises.
In 2021, due to the MCO lasting until February 18 when the CNY fell on February 12 to 13, the Malaysian Chinese community had resorted to celebrations online as the means to keep traditions alive.
But yesterday over at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), the crowd started to swell from 11am and kept growing despite the threat of rain.
Malay Mail’s observation showed that a large portion of the shoppers consisted of foreigners and Malay families, with very few tourists or Chinese families.
Employees at the outlets, such as Dunkin Donuts, told Malay Mail the crowd was larger than usual and perhaps even more than it was on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Almost all the shops were open but the patrons were seen mostly frequenting the eateries and food courts.
Queues upon queues were forming at lunchtime as security tried their best to make sure everyone was scanning their MySejahtera app as required.
While chatting up the masses Malay Mail found most of them just wanted to take the day off and make the best of their holiday.
“I was thinking, why not take the kids out today early and grab a bite to eat and head home?” said Ariff Irsan Zul Ariff, who was with his three kids and wife.
“We all got [booster vaccine doses] and the kids were a bit restless. I have three days off so if I take them out today I won’t have to hear the kids complain that I didn’t take them out I am a bit surprised at the crowd, but I think people are confident as most have been vaccinated.
“Plus since the government gave us permission, as long as we try our best to maintain SOPs and distance I think we should be ok. Complacency is the cause of the clusters, in my opinion,” said the 41-year-old engineer.