17.02.2015

Welcoming the New Year of the Goat

The Chinese community, as well as other fellow Malaysians, will be greeting the Year of the Goat this coming 19th.  Amidst the rush for last minute shopping, the trip to the family home for the family dinner, and plans to visit long lost friends and relatives, celebrants should keep in mind a few prudent factors that are necessary in most holiday related seasons.

According to references, some of the qualities of “Goat people” are quite positive.  They enjoy being in the middle of a group, and consequently according to this theory, flock to other fellow goats, possibly because they are so compassionate and helpful.  The story also goes as saying that their sincerity can be taken advantage of and Goat people may get their feelings hurt by undeserving sympathy seekers.

As usual, the police will once again mount their road operations, but despite the threats of summons and advice on safe driving, the daily fatalities reported in the media have sadly been constant.  It is amazing how the usually careful drivers and riders will continue to take unnecessary risk when on the road back to their hometowns.  The ‘Ops Chinese New Year 2015’ was launched to ensure safety for all road users in the coming festive season, and will be jointly enforced by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and traffic police throughout the state.

It is therefore prudent to remind drivers and other road users to ensure that their vehicles are in tip top condition for long distance travels, have sufficient rest stops, and driving with extra care in view of the many others who would be on the road with the same intention in mind – to rush home for the celebrations.

It also of interest to note that the relevant authorities have taken steps to register passengers of river boats during the festive season.  Though the process may be inconvenient for passengers, the good intention must be positively accepted – in cases of accidents, the proper records will be available for investigators to work on.

This procedure of registering passengers has been practised by the airline industry and god forbid, in cases of accidents, which do happen from time to time, passenger manifests will ensure that surviving relatives will have ready records and know where their late beloved ones are.

One interesting event that must be mentioned in any writing of the New Year that is peculiar to Sarawak is the playing of firecrackers.  Visitors from the semenanjung, on their first year here, are usually shocked beyond belief to see all kinds of firecrackers being blasted on the stroke of midnight following the sumptuous family dinner.

It is said that pilots bringing in their aircraft in that instant have been shocked to see explosions all around their landing areas and some have commented that they felt like landing in a war zone!

The citizens here should be thankful, as they should know that their brothers and sisters celebrating the same occasion in the semenanjung have no chance to do the same.

On the other hand, the police have also been kind to allow such noisy event to take place – but the local police chief has rightly called for moderation from the residents when letting go their crackers, taking into consideration factors of safety, fire hazards, and their neighbours’ rights to peace and quiet.

As expected, we will also see heavy traffic from out of town as those who work out of town struggle to take every available transport to return to their family homes.  There are of course, the usual complains that the business community will take advantage of this to increase the price of almost every essentials – from the cost of transportation to haircuts.

This “return to family home” occasion has resulted in barely a few cars for a few days following the joyous occasion, and many road users in major cities are happy driving around with the roads free of heavy traffic.

Amidst the joyous occasion of visiting relatives and friends, celebrants should not forget that there are those who have to stay back and continue working during the festive week – those in the essential services like the hospital, fire department, the police, petrol stations, public transport and Rescue 991.  This group of people will continue to provide services essential to the society at large, even during festivities.

In whatever way and place the celebration to welcome the Lunar New Year is safely and considerately done, this scribe would like to wish its Chinese readers, and others joining in the festivities, a Happy Year of the Goat.

This scribe, one who have spent the New Year in a number of places, find the occasion in Sarawak very special – particularly being greeted by the blasting of all sorts of fireworks in the skies above the city on the stroke of midnight – reminiscent of a local version of a Guy Fawkes Day?