Qing Ming Festival put paid by pandemic for second consecutive year

Clockwise from top left: Ting, Dr Annuar, Lau, Chang and Wong sharing their views during the livestream session on SMC's Facebook page.

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By Karen Bong

SIBU, March 3: The Chinese community, especially in Covid-19 red zones including Sibu, may not be able to observe the Qing Ming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day for another year this year.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting has raised his concerns about activities that could lead to the gathering of people as the annual Qing Ming festival is just a month away which falls on April 4 this year.

“In one month’s time, it will be a busy time for Sibu traditionally as it will be Qing Ming. It is busier than Chinese New Year.

“Last year, we told everybody not to come back (the time when Movement Control Order was first imposed) while interstate and -district movement were prohibited,” he said during SMC live session on Facebook today.

Today’s session was participated by Assistant Minister for Local Government and Housing Dr Annuar Rapaee, Senator Robert Lau, Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang and Pelawan assemblyman David Wong.

Looking at the Covid-19 situation in Sibu, Dr Annuar expressed doubt that Qing Ming can be held this year while reminding that spike of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak this year were due to gathering activities such as Pasai which stemmed from a funeral, Muhibbah in Betong linked to private gathering as well as cockfighting.

“This is honest of me. With the cases in Sibu at the moment, to turn Sibu into green (zone)… there is still a long way to go,” he emphasised.

Moreover, Dr Annuar added that there were still quite a few areas in Sibu under Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) at present.

“It is from small gathering but it spiral out and the catastrophe is so huge,” he added.

Wong agreed that Qing Ming should not be allowed given that the situation was still not under control.

“I think it goes back to the same question as in if you don’t allow children to go back to school, then Qing Ming should not be allowed as well.

“The policies of the government must be balanced to show the people that we understand. So if you say children can go back to school but Qing Ming is not allowed, it does not make sense,” he explained.

Chang also agreed that Sibu will not be ready for Qing Ming based on the current Covid-19 situation in the district.

“People just have to understand. We are all in this together and like YB David said, we have to be consistent. Whatever policies applied to one group or function, it has been consistently applied throughout,” she added. -DayakDaily