Letter: Ensure Health and Safety in Celebration

By the Malaysian Health Coalition
Full Signature List on myhealthcoalition.org

The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) recognises that all Malaysians have made sacrifices to adjust their religious and cultural practices since the pandemic began last year. The Rakyat deserves a government that acknowledges these sacrifices through sustainable and prudent pandemic policies.

We strongly urge the following:

  • Write and then enforce culturally-sensitive SOPs

We laud the government’s decision to allow the chariot procession to Batu Caves to continue under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Thaipusam this year. This shows a good example of how SOPs can be safely adapted to religious and cultural practices. Unfortunately, the initial SOP for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations were less clear. The government must appropriately recognise and adapt cultural and religious practices in all SOPs moving forward, especially during festive periods.

  • Ensure predictability and consistency of festive SOPs

We reiterate our call for the government to deploy a long-term, sustainable COVID-19 strategy (refer to our statement on 8 January 2021). The Rakyat should not need to wait for new SOPs every time another celebration approaches. There must be predictable and consistent SOPs for cultural and religious celebrations to avoid confusion and optimise compliance. This is a multi-year pandemic. The government must introduce policies that reflect this reality.

  • Boost public education on vaccines through religious and cultural groups

There is still a lack of coordinated, government-led public education on vaccines. The government must urgently work with religious and community leaders to combat conspiracy theories and misinformation that fuel anti-vaccine dogma. That said, the vaccine is not a silver bullet and the government must not treat it as such. Other public health measures such as physical distancing, mask-wearing and good hand hygiene must continue long after the vaccine delivery begins. 


While we adapt and transform yet another festive season to pandemic circumstances, we must remember that the sacrifices we make today will have triumphant outcomes tomorrow. 

We wish all Malaysians a Happy Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai.



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