By Hakim Mahari
KUALA LUMPUR, 12 May 2021: Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, said Hari Raya Aidilfitri must be celebrated in a new norm this year for the common good and the country’s future in the war against the COVID-19.
Nonetheless, His Majesty stated that this would entail extensive cooperation and patience among the public.
Even without the customary visiting activities and ‘balik kampung’ exodus, His Majesty said the public should be thankful that they were able to observe Ramadan and were blessed with good health in time to welcome Syawal and enjoy traditional Aidilfitri dishes.
“I am aware that the people have to comply with various regulations imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19. I have also seen and heard the grievances of the people affected by this period of tribulations,” he said in his Aidilfitri message aired via radio and television tonight.
Meanwhile, in his special address in conjunction with Aidilfitri, Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said although the government’s decision to prohibit house-to-house visits during Hari Raya Aidilfitri drew criticism from the public, the move was necessary to avoid a further outbreak of COVID-19 infections that could reach tens of thousands of cases daily following the festive season.
He said that he was aware that the decision, which prohibited interstate and inter-district travel as well as social activities, drew criticism for not allowing people to ‘balik kampung’ and visit friends and family.
“I know it was not a popular decision and may not satisfy everyone. Some had scolded me. They questioned why we are doing this when Muslims are celebrating the first day of Aidilfitri tomorrow.
“Is this government cruel? I am not cruel. I made the decision to protect your lives and your future. If I allow it, who knows if your guests are COVID-19 positive or asymptomatic or unaware that he or she has been infected and goes on passing the virus to others at different homes?
“The situation makes it even hard to break the COVID-19 infection chain. If she or he visits 10 homes, then 10 family members would contract the virus.
“In the end, the moment we finish celebrating Aidilfitri, the positive cases in the country may jump to tens of thousands a day. Do not fool around. This is a tough decision but it had to be made,” he said in his Aidilfitri address tonight.
Although there was no assurance that the government’s various measures would result in a complete eradication of COVID-19, the Prime Minister stated that it all depended on how strictly people followed the standard operating procedures (SOP) for preventing the infection from spreading.
He added that it was entirely dependent on people’s self-discipline in adhering to the SOP, which would result in lower COVID-19 numbers, weakening the coronavirus and halting transmission.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin stated that this can be accomplished by avoiding crowded spaces and large gatherings, practicing physical distancing and frequent hand washing, avoiding sitting in close proximity to another human, and putting a priority on personal hygiene.***
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