KUCHING: It is without a doubt that this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration will be an entirely unique experience, one without the usual traditions of merrymaking at open houses or visiting with family and friends.
While there may still have been a sense of eager anticipation leading up to today, it is likely diminished by qualms and fears over Covid-19.
Absent, too, is the balik kampung exodus of excitement-filled individuals returning to their hometowns and villages, looking forward to being reunited with their loved ones.
These are the sacrifices made by celebrants and the people as whole in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.
To this end, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has set strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the festive period which coincides with the conditional movement control order (CMCO) — including prohibiting open houses and balik kampung voyages between districts.
In addition, celebrations are limited to the first day of the festivity, with a maximum of 20 individuals consisting of close family members and neighbours.
Despite the usual cheer being dimmed, Sarawakians are urged to cooperate with guidelines and remain optimistic with this new norm as a collective effort in the war against the pandemic.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing
“I wish all those of Islamic faith a blessed Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2020. We must use this Hari Raya as the tie which binds the family connection stronger, since visitors are prohibited from visiting us on this special day due to the health pandemic.
“Covid-19 may endanger our lives, but it certainly brings our families ever closer together as we fight the Covid-19 menace from within the confines of our homes.”
Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip
“This is going to be quiet Hari Raya for all of us. The CMCO is still on. There are numerous relaxations, but there are restrictions still in place as well. We have to be patient, and understand all these restrictions are necessary to beat the Covid-19 pandemic. We have to adjust.
“Let us all work together and win this battle. We celebrate in a more restrained manner in accordance with the regulations.”
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi
“Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslims and also the people of Sarawak generally. I hope that this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration will bring joy to all despite celebrating with the new norm during the CMCO.
“Hopefully, we will continue to strengthen our bonds of friendship and foster unity amongst ourselves. With close cooperation and unity among its multiracial people, Sarawak will develop progressively and become an advanced state with a prosperous people in the future.”
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah
“For parents whose children cannot balik kampung due to the CMCO, do not feel sad. Be strong. God willing, when we win this war against Covid-19, it will be a double joy.
“On the part of the children, do not forget to call your parents. Maintain family love and care for each other despite the distance. In this way, the bonding and the family institution itself will be strengthened.”
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah
“Adhere to the SOP for the celebration and do not be too excessive in celebrating. We do not want to have a new Covid-19 cluster created following irresponsible acts during these two celebrations to be known as Raya cluster or Gawai cluster. We need to take care of our health and protect our old folks from being affected by Covid-19.
“On behalf of my family and I, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture as well as Ministry of Youth and Sports, I would like to wish Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all Muslims throughout the country.”
Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom
“I want to wish all Sarawakians a very happy Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Despite the new normal of celebrating Raya and Gawai by not visiting relatives and friends, I hope that this year’s Raya feeling of joy and happiness remains the same as the past years. Stay safe, everyone.”
Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil
“For certain, this year’s Hari Raya celebration will be less merry as it will be done moderately, enclosed within respective homes, and many are unable to balik kampung to celebrate. This is part of our sacrifices which have to be made to curb the spread of Covid-19. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin.”
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Women chief Datuk Seri Doris Brodie
“Although many may not be able to balik kampung and berziarah raya (Raya visiting), I would like to believe that the true meaning of Hari Raya is not all lost when we all can still get in touch especially via handphones to wish and get in touch with each other.
“(We should also) remain thankful that there is still opportunity to gather with immediate family members, but with strict adherence to the SOP and guidelines, whereby not more than 20 people can gather.
“On a personal basis, my family and I will surely miss celebrating Hari Raya with family members of Islamic faith this year. Nonetheless, we wish all our Muslim relatives and friends a Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Stay home and stay safe.”
Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng
“I would like to extend my heartiest wishes to all frontline workers, the people of Kuching South, and all who celebrate Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Gawai Dayak.
“However, as we are adapting the new norm, allow me to remind all of us to always protect yourselves, your family, friends, and others during this critical time of Covid-19 as the virus may stay on for some time. It is imperative that we comply strictly to government-issued SOP while celebrating these festivals.”
Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Sarawak chairman Mohammad Ibrahim Hamid
“This time around is a historical moment to most of us in celebrating our Aidilfitri on a small scale — no visiting, no open house, no big family gatherings as some family members cannot come back, morning Raya prayer confined to immediate family members at home only, and also no handshake. These are the few new norms that we have to adopt and practice.
“Nevertheless, we can still feel the Raya atmosphere. Abide by the government decision on the CMCO and SOP. Stay home and stay safe.”
Sarawak Community Policing Association (SCPA) chairman Datuk Dr John Lau Pang Heng
“Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2020 is celebrated in a very special way, where visiting is only limited to close family members without overnight stay. However, we can exchange greetings using Zoom, Facebook, Facetime, or other social media. Though it is different from the norm, this is the best way in 2020 to celebrate the festive season.
“Please take care of your health, practise social distancing when visiting close family members, and wear face masks. It is highly recommended to avoid body contact during this festive season.”
Sarawak Chamber of Bumiputera Entrepreneurs (DUBS) president Datuk Abang Helmi Ikhwan
“My family and I would like to wish Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin to all DUBS members and business people of Islamic faith. I hope that everyone remains cheerful as usual despite the current Covid-19 pandemic and CMCO.”