PETALING JAYA: Bookmarked by extreme weather events and a pandemic that refuses to be leashed, the exuberance of revellers in welcoming the new year was tempered by official directives telling everyone to tone it down, just like how it was a year ago.
The key message was: have fun, but keep safe and stay at home.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said nationwide patrols, especially at hotspots for public gatherings, were conducted to ensure the public complied with the standard operating procedure of the National Recovery Plan.
He said action will be taken under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) against any party who violates the SOP.
“We advise the public to always comply with the SOP, and everyone’s cooperation in this aspect is important as Covid-19 still represents a serious health threat,” he said in a statement that came after Kuala Lumpur police had said that no fireworks or large gatherings would be allowed at popular gathering points in the city, such as KLCC and Pavilion Bukit Bintang.
“All police commissioners, state police chiefs and district police chiefs are ordered to increase patrols at popular hangout spots,” said Acryl Sani, according to Bernama.
This prohibition on public gatherings over the weekend also extended all the way to Sabah, with state authorities banning the traditional bathing ritual at public beaches, a practice widely embraced by Sabahans as a means of getting rid of “bad elements” (buang sial).
In Penang, lawyer Trisha Ng, 33, said she is not really in the mood to celebrate New Year’s Eve as 2021 has been filled with ups and downs for her as well as the country.
“The recent floods did affect a few of my relatives and it has dampened the celebratory mood,” she said.
“With the pandemic, we spend most of the time indoors and it doesn’t seem like a fulfilling year to celebrate. This year has been more about survival than growth, so that doesn’t seem to be a reason to celebrate.
“However, I am really looking forward to a fresh new year. I hope to grow career- and person-wise next year, focusing on self-development as well as adopting a less stressful routine,” she added.
Accounts executive Ian Ang, 27, said he can’t wait to usher in the new year as 2021 had been a tough year for him.
“It has not been my year as I faced a few major challenges in life. I got out of a relationship, and I was forced to get a new job.
“However, things are slowly getting better.
“I am so thankful for the lessons learnt and 2022, please be a good year to me,” he quipped.
Owing to the more-infectious Omicron variant of Covid-19, business operators and the public are also taking precautions in ushering in New Year’s Day.
KC Lim, who runs a cafe at Jonker Walk in Melaka, said there was no countdown party like they used to have before Covid-19.
“We usually have a small celebration with our patrons on New Year’s Eve to welcome the brand new year.
“Some revellers will also have a celebration along the pedestrian mall. But this year, all this will not take place.
“The virus is still here and it is better to be vigilant. Let’s not gather for now so that we can do so in the future when it’s safe,” he said, adding that the cafe would still welcome guests for its New Year’s Eve dinner set.
Sales manager Aw Leesha, 37, said she had to again put off plans to catch the annual New Year’s Eve concert in Taiwan with her family owing to the contagious Omicron variant.
“Although it may be less severe upon contraction, I do not want to push my luck or that of my family.
“It’s okay for us to just stay home, make some home-cooked food and enjoy it as a family,” said Aw, from Petaling Jaya.
Father of three Aaron Patrick, 50, from Kuala Lumpur, said he has disallowed his sons aged 21, 20 and 18 from returning home after midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“They can meet their friends for ‘yumcha’ or catch up after our family dinner but no countdown or whatsoever celebrations allowed.
“I have made myself clear, they understand the situation and are fine with it,” he said.
Meanwhile, torrential rains in Malaysia have caused flooding and landslides in several states, claiming almost 50 lives so far, with another five people still reported missing.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department has predicted that continuous rain will fall over Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, and parts of Sabah today.