By Anthony Dylan Anak Frankie Jurem 

The heavy rains which come and go in early January and interspersed with hot spells in between are what we have become accustomed to leading towards the Chinese New Year. It seems to always be the same phenomenon even last year when the Tiger ended its reign to give way to the Rabbit. Both these Chinese Zodiac were in the water element. Previously in 2020, we had the metal Rat and in 2021, we had the metal Ox. This year, the Dragon appears in the wood element. 

It would have been less than 2months since Christmas that we celebrate Chinese New Year. We would see how many shopping centres try extremely hard to ensure their Christmas decorations and setups could easily evolve into a Chinese New Year theme. 

The use of the Christmas tree structures and turning them into a “Chinese New Year” tree is common nowadays. Even commercial establishments have found the structures useful to change the ornaments and make it look festive. Kudos for creativity. 

Those who followed Joey Yap’s Feng Shui talks would have had a field day with his insights for the year as his talks often garner massive crowds for the two days on 27th and 28th January 2024. While previously, all his Feng Shui and Astrology talks were held in the KLCC Convention Center; this year, it was held in MITEC. A larger venue. This year, as we end the year of the water Rabbit, we hope to be able to see an enthusiastic and livelier start to a good year ahead. 

I will be driving back to Kuantan before the eve of Chinese New Year as usual. My journey would normally begin at 5am and arrive by 9am…just so that I can partake in my routine nasi dagang! I believe that that there will be some traffic congestion near the Gombak Toll Plaza. Hopefully by the time I reach my destination, the traffic would have eased up. As you may already be aware, the school holidays (they call this the Year end 2023 school term holidays) are from 10th February 2024 till 10th March 2024. 

Nothing beats celebrating any festivities with the family and loved ones. It does not matter if it is for Christmas, Chinese New Year or Gawai for me but what matters is the anticipated joy of coming home. Flying to Kuantan was never my type of travel as I prefer to take that long drive back. It would take about 3.5 hours or so, but I would rather say it is a 4-hour drive. My hope is to have cloudy weather so it would not be too hot and sunny as I would be travelling facing the rising sun. 

The reunion luncheon has replaced the reunion dinner to accommodate everyone to attend. That is the most important reason for a reunion. Being together. Let us not forget the chatter, laughter and screams from little children. 

The smell of sweet bak kwa and roasted pipa duck, steamed prawns, poached chicken, steamed fish, siew yuk, cookies and tarts have already got me salivating. 

I look forward to the firecrackers and fireworks which I expect to be merrier this time round. Nothing beats the countdown to Chinese New Year accompanied by a cacophony of sights and sounds. If the weather holds up, this would be one to remember as last year, the weather did put a damper on the few days post eve. 

The giving out of the red packets thankfully is still very much alive despite some trying to convince you that an e-ang pow would do the same and is safer. I beg to differ. It is not about the sum within the packet, but the meaning behind the symbolic gesture of receiving a red packet. The ang pow should stay as a physical handout. Let us hope parents nowadays remind the next generation of this importance. Otherwise, it would later corrupt the practice. I dread to see the day when the wearing of black or white is accepted for Chinese New Year. 

Let us also wish for a greater Subang Jaya in this Wood Dragon year. We hope that the councilors who have been selected get down to work with MBSJ on the many issues still left unresolved for many years. The back lanes of the commercial areas need sprucing up. The use of the back lanes to prepare food and such must be stopped and hygiene better managed. We still need to look at having the pedestrian walkways better designed with a landscape buffer at the road shoulder. One example is the one done in Bandar Sunway near the hospital passing by Sunway Club through to the Pinnacle. 

Looking around Subang Jaya, it would have been rather thoughtful if the main commercial areas of Taipan in USJ and SS15 are decorated with lanterns to showcase a city of being smart and vibrant. On the other issue, I still think MBSJ should consider having a dual language website instead of just the National Language. After all, we need to also encompass expats too. There is no harm having a dual language website. 

The Smart Selangor Bus should be improved, and the bus stops for these better created. Most are still pole signs without shelter and hard to get to. I am sure you do not need professors to figure this out if you talk to the masses. 

Nevertheless, for the coming holidays, do stay safe and drive carefully. Better late arriving safe than otherwise. 

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le! 

Happy Chinese New Year of the Wood Dragon 2024!