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SIBU, March 29: By this time of the year, all cemeteries here like elsewhere will be crowded with people paying respect to their loved ones.
However, all of them are quiet today despite the Ching Ming Festival just few days away. Another prominent sight is people selling flowers near cemeteries. This time, there is none of them.
The festival this year falls on April 4. During Ching Ming, people commemorate and show respect to their ancestors by visiting their graves, offering food, tea or wine, burning incense, burning or offering joss paper including sweeping the tombs, removing weeds, and adding fresh soil to the graves.
With the enforcement of movement control order (MCO) from March 18 to April 14 due to Covid-19 outbreak, some of the Sarawakians working outside the state have already decided not to fly home for the festival.
A local working in Singapore, William Yap, with a heavy heart is giving this Ching Ming festival a miss for similar reason.
A regional manager of an American multinational company dealing in building solutions, Yap, 54, said it was better to play safe by not celebrating the festival in his hometown Sibu.
Every year, he makes it a point to come back to pay respect to his late parents, since residing in Singapore more than 30 years ago.
“This is not a good time to travel. It is better to stay low for now,” he said through a WeChat conversation.
He added that if he was to come back, there would also be limited flight.
“If I were to fly back, I will have to observe 14 days of quarantine. This will be very troublesome,” he said, adding that he will still observe the festival when the situation returns to normalcy.
His four siblings of two brothers and two sisters in Sibu will proceed with the festival.
Meanwhile, Lovetta Tiong, 52, is also staying put in Kuala Lumpur and will not fly back for the festival this time.
A managing director of two construction companies in Kuala Lumpur, Tiong has decided to skip the festival.
“The government had, on March 17, disallowed inter-state travel due to Covid-19 outbreak and with the number of cases increasing by day, it is also better for me not to travel out,” she said.
Tiong also called on the people to stay home like what she is doing so as to help government flatten the Covid-19 curve.
“We should all be obedient and work in hands with frontliners. Pity them, as they have to work round the clock with no proper gear,” she said.
Meanwhile Sibu United Chinese Graveyard Association chairman, Teo Boon Siew, hoped the people would strictly observe MCO by refraining from visiting the graveyard of their loved ones.
“Though I don’t have the authority to make such advice, I hope that for health sake, the people would give visiting graveyard a miss. Alternatively, the paying of respect to our love ones could also be done at home,” he said. — DayakDaily