January 31, 2011 at 2:00 pm
Malaysia is home to a variety of races living harmoniously under one roof for over five decades. Having lived together in communities for so long, it is only natural that we grow to adopt one or two of the customs and practices of other races into our daily lives. Do not be surprised to hear a child using his/her name in place of herself when talking to his/her parents or other elder members of her family. This practice is most common in Malay families as it is considered rude to use ‘saya’ (I or me) when addressing others.
During a time where crime rates were not high and people lived their life at a more relaxed pace, trust was one of the ‘gifts’ that were easily obtainable especially for those staying in rural areas. Neighbours relied on each other to get things done, be it a small task like removing a fallen tree to tasks that requires the participation of everyone in the village. This is most evident when a ceremonious event is about to take place, like weddings or birth of a newborn child. The womenfolk will help the host in food preparation whilst the men are assigned to other jobs, like setting up tents for their guests. Everyone in the neighbourhood, no matter what race they are, are all invited for the humble feast.
There may not be many festivities that goes on in a village, but it does not mean that the neighbours do not meet up for casual chats and drinks. The one thing that is special amongst the people here in Malaysia is the ‘Open House’ concept. During major celebrations like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year or even Deepavali, people take the opportunity to ‘open’ their houses to friends and relatives alike. The families who are celebrating takes the initiative to prepare their tastiest meals and drinks which are guaranteed to knock the socks off of their guests. They also go to great lengths to ensure that a continuous supply of food is present at the dining table so that none of their guests go home with a flat tummy. Everyone is treated like a king as long as one is a guest and not a foe. Though the issue of cleaning up becomes as certain as death and taxes itself once the crowd has finally cleared, the hosts remain happy and pleased that their friends and loved ones (and their tummies!) had a wonderful time at their house.
The success of this ‘Open House’ concept and its positive effect on the guests have lately come to be an inspiration to politicians and institutions alike. They have taken this home-grown concept and turned it into a big event, often on a regional or even national level. It is a better and more efficient way to reach out and to hear the compliments as well as gripes by their own supporters. The public can get to know who they are supporting in an up close and personal way, instead of relating to their leaders through the television. They get to see what their leaders are like in real life and enjoy good food and good times with them. And, like the adage ‘A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, no one could ever resist any kind of food especially if it is complimentary.
Encouraged by the great success of the open houses organised annually, the leaders of the country will be hosting a series of open houses which will be organised at state and region level. Among those is the state-level Chinese New Year open house which will be held on 6th February this year at Balik Pulau, Penang. The celebration at Balik Pulau would be centred in the vicinity of Jalan Tun Sardon market complex. There will be four main areas for the public to browse through, that is the main stage, folklore art stage, musical opera stage and street performance area. Some 30,000 people are expected to attend the event this year including Penang’s Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
For those who wish to experience a public version of an open house, but find Balik Pulau a tad too far, head on to the Penang Chinese Town Hall’s Chinese New Year Open House in Georgetown on 4th February. The event is slotted to start at 9.30 am and is expected to go on for two hours. Members of the public of all races are most welcome to attend the event as there will be a buffet and even halal Malay food for the public. The organising committee have also arranged a lion dance performance, Chingay and Chinese orchestra performances.
Sarawak will also be organising their very first Malaysia Open House Chinese New Year 2011 on 6th February 2011. Celebrations will be held at Miri City Fan and is expected to draw a huge crowd on that day. Fans of Jamal Abdillah will be pleased to know that this veteran singer will be entertaining the crowd on that day together with other popular artists. The event is themed ‘Jalinan Mesra 1Malaysia’ will be aired live on RTM and will be graced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s attendance, together with Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Puan Sri Ragad Waleed al-Kurdi, and Governor Tun Abang Muhammad Salahudding and wife Toh Puan Norkiah.
If you are planning on enjoying Kuala Lumpur city without the many cars on its roads, do make it a point to visit Wisma MCA at Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur for some Chinese New Year festive cheer. The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) will be organising a Chinese New Year Open House on the first day of Chinese New Year at the MCA headquarters in Jalan Ampang. There will be performances and an appearance by the God of Prosperity to liven up the mood! The event will start at 9.00 am at San Choon Hall, Wisma MCA, Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala Lumpur.