Lyna Mohamad & James Kon
With restrictions still imposed in the current Endemic Phase, celebrations and festivities are conducted following guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to curb the spread
Celebrants are learning to adapt to the new norm, including Chinese New Year which signifies the beginning of a new year and one of the most important events in the Chinese calendar.
In the Sultanate, celebrations are limited to close family members and relatives and Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar reminded celebrants to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) during the festive season.
Among the health advice are to take the antigen rapid test (ART) prior to visiting parents and elders before welcoming visitors to their homes.
The Bulletin spoke to several prominent businessmen in the Chinese community on celebrating Chinese New Year in the new norm.
In adhering to the MoH’s SOPs, Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin, leader of the local Chinese community, will not host any Chinese New Year open house for the second consecutive year.
In his Chinese New Year message, Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin conveyed his greetings to everyone and hoped that the new year will bring further progress despite the pandemic.
He added that although the current market economic situation is challenging, everyone needs to be confident maintaining an optimistic attitude. “I also believe that after nearly two years of the pandemic, Brunei has now entered its endemic stage and we can improve the economic market condition in the country.
“Under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the country will continue to flourish, prosper and be stable.
“At the same time, under the philosophy of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB), citizens are treated equally and given the best care.
“Therefore, as citizens, we must continue to maintain a good image for the country as well as unite, and remain loyal to His Majesty.”
Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin also urged the Chinese community to actively pursue and achieve Brunei Vision 2035 as well as move forward and progress with
Meanwhile, Brunei Darussalam Hokkien Association President Lim Han Chiong shared that Chinese New Year is usually celebrated with families with friends coming together to celebrate. He looked forward for good health and prosperity this new year.
“However, due to the pandemic, it is understandable that it is not what we expected. But we have to adapt to the new norms and with technology, we found ways to celebrate and stay connected while keeping families and friends safe. We believe that 2022 will be a good year,” he said.
He added that they will adhere to the MoH’s guidelines in their Chinese New Year celebration and will only celebrate with close families wearing red face masks to match the occasion.
Chinese Chamber of Commerce Bandar Seri Begawan President Malcolm Lim said, “The Chinese community in Brunei appreciates the authority’s approval for the lion dance in the first three days of Chinese New Year during the Early Endemic Phase.
“Celebrants and visitors must adhere to the MoH’s SOPs to avoid and minimise any possibility of infection,” he added.
“I wish everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai and for the country to continue its progress under His Majesty.”
Concepts Computer Managing Director Vincent Pao highlighted that they will follow the MoH’s advice by adhering to the SOPs and will not be having open houses this year to help curb the spread of COVID-19.