Unvaccinated individuals barred from attending Hungry Ghost Fest this year

Hungry Ghost Festival SOP released and approved by Unifor and SDMC, last updated Aug 4, 2021.

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Aug 5: Unvaccinated individuals are not allowed to participate in this year’s ‘Por Tor’ (Hungry Ghost) Festival while organising committee members on duty must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two doses.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng said these are some of the new rules for the festival this year according to standard operating procedures (SOPs) approved by the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).

To ensure the vaccination statuses of participants, he said organising committees must also check the risk status or proof of vaccination at the registration counters, other than taking down names and body temperatures.

He added while youth below 18-years-old are not permitted to join the celebration, senior citizens aged 80 and above are discouraged from attending.

On maximum number of attendees allowed, he stressed that it shall not be more than 50 persons for indoor venues or 100 persons for outdoor venues at any one time, taking into consideration venue size and at least one metre physcial distancing between each person.

“Other than these, the rest of the SOPs are more or less the same as last year, in 2020,” he said during a virtual press conference through Zoom today.

With the Hungry Ghost Festival falling on dates from Aug 8 to Sept 6 this year, Wee said any related events held in public areas will require permits from the local authorities.

For areas under MBKS’ jurisdiction, he said organising committees will have to write to the council for a no-objection letter before submitting the application form NRP/P2/HGF21 to Unifor for approval.

Hungry Ghost Festival programme application form (NRP/P2/HGF21) to be submitted to Unifor for approval.

Note that only Houses of Worship or Associations gazetted under Lembaga Amanah Khairat Bukan Islam under the Charitable Trust Ordinance 1994 or registered with the Department of Registration of Malaysia (ROS) under the Societies Act 1966 (Act 335) are allowed to organise the festival.

Similarly like last year, the ‘Qiang Gu’ ceremony, where numbered tickets for hampers would be tossed into the air for participants to grab, will also be prohibited in 2021.

As an alternative, Wee suggested organising committees to distribute the items to participants in any form but without involving any physical contact.

Also present at the press conference were Unifor director Richard Lon and Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president Dato Richard Wee. — DayakDaily