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Quiet Thaipusam but celebration remains meaningful with fervent prayers

Every year during the Thaipusam festival, the Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple at Batu Caves would be flooded in a sea of people comprising Hindu devotees from all over the country and tourists, both local and foreign.

Today, however, the crowds were absent from the temple, which was tightly guarded by the police, as Hindu temples nationwide adhered to the standard operating procedure (SOP) under the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Nevertheless, this year’s Thaipusam is just as significant and meaningful as Hindus marked the occasion with prayers at home, particularly for the country to be free of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private sector employee, N.Kumari, 35, shared with Bernama that she and her entire family cleansed themselves with tumeric powder before praying at home and conveying Thaipusam greetings to family and friends through social media platforms.

“Many of us are praying for the pandemic to end today. Every Thaipusam, my entire family would purify ourselves with tumeric at home before going to the Batu Caves temple to watch the kavadi procession and the festivities there,” she said.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a posting on his Facebook account today, wished Hindus a ‘Safe and Happy Thaipusam’.

He also reminded all to practise physical distancing of at least one metre, to wash their hands regularly and wear face masks properly, covering the nose, mouth and chin.

Thaipusam is celebrated by Hindus all over the world during the month of ‘Thai’, the 10th month of the Tamil calendar commemorating deity Lord Murugan receiving the vel, a sacred spear, from his mother Pravati to defeat the evil Soorapadman, and restore peace and prosperity to mankind.

The statue of Lord Murugan was brought from the Jalan Bandar temple to Kuil Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple at Batu Caves yesterday, without the usual procession in order to abide by the SOP set by the government.

The Thaipusam chariot was accompanied by not more than 10 people but without any accompanying music, and it was not allowed to make stops along the journey to Batu Caves.

Checks by Bernama at the Batu Caves temple today showed that several individuals turned up at the temple but left after being advised by policemen stationed there.

In addition, the Sri Maha Mariamman temple management here also put up notices informing the public regarding its closure, and Jalan Tun H S Lee, which was usually filled with throngs of Hindu devotees making their way to temple, was relatively quiet today.

In NEGERI SEMBILAN, B. Suhashini, 27, and her family performed prayers and smashed coconuts at their home in Taman Putra, Batu Kikir, Jempol, before having a meal together with relatives.

“I am fulfilling my vows this year as a sign of gratitude by shaving the head of my 15-month-old son. Usually it would be conducted at Batu Caves but because of the MCO, the ceremony is done at home. The shaven hair will be kept at home for the time being and will be taken to Batu Caves when there are no longer restrictions on interstate travel,” she said.

In PERAK, M. Ramachandran, 45, marked the festival with prayers at his house in Taman Silibin Ria, Ipoh as early as 6.45 am with his wife and four children.

The president of Sri Subramaniar temple in Gunung Cheroh, Ipoh, M. Viveganantha, said this was the second time in the history of the century-old temple that Thaipusam celebrations were not conducted there, with the first being after the declaration of Emergency on May 16, 1969.

In SELANGOR, G. Parumal, 39, and his family, who run a business making and renting kavadis, said although there were no prayers at temples, his entire family is grateful for being able to celebrate Thaipusam together at home. He hoped that the COVID-19 pandemic will end soon.

He said this was the first time he was unable to sell or rent kavadis to Hindu devotees since he started the business some 20 years ago.

In KEDAH, checks by Bernama found that the gates of the Sri Subramaniya Swami Devasthanam temple in Sungai Petani were closed, with several People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel stationed at the entrance.

According to a temple committee member, K. Anbarasan, devotees are not allowed to pray at the temple for three days beginning yesterday, and only committee members are permitted to pray today with a limit of five people at any one time.

In MELAKA, the Sri Subramaniar Devasthanam temple management in Batu Berendam took the initiative of conducting a live Thaipusam prayer ceremony on Facebook. The temple president, V. Manokaran, said the public have sent flowers and milk to the temple gates to fulfill their vows.

In PENANG, Jalan Air Terjun, which was usually crowded every Thaipusam, was completely quiet and empty today.

A check by Bernama found that a number of devotees were spotted at the Penang Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Temple or Penang Hilltop Temple located along the road.

They were seen performing their prayers outside the temple gates before leaving as the temple was closed.

A few notices and banners were hung outside the temple, indicating that there would be no Thaipusam activities, in line with the MCO.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Movie-goers in Penang elated over reopening of cinemas

Paul Elliott’s family and friends cheered with glee after being the first few to enter the screening hall following the reopening of cinemas on Dec 16.

The 43-year-old business consultant and his group of nine had bought their movie tickets, popcorns and soda to watch the premiere screening of “Wonder Woman 1984”, which is the only movie screened for the time being.

He said they wanted to relive the moments of watching a movie on the big screen after over a month of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have been looking forward to watching some other movies such as “Top Gun: Maverick”, but the movies’ premiere screening were postponed.

“It is definitely great to see that the cinemas here have reopened and we definitely would want to come here more often,” Elliot told Bernama before entering the screening hall at Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC), ,Gurney Plaza here.

Before entering the screening hall, Elliott and every other movie-goer had to line up to have their body temperature checked and the MySejahtera contact tracing app scanned.

GSC PR and branding manager, Sharmine Ishak said these were part of the cinemas’ standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the National Security Council.

He also said that patrons were also required to sit one seat apart from each other in the hall, as a requirement of social distancing.

“Additionally, we will also be cleaning and sanitising our cinemas after every showtime , as well as regularly throughout the day.

“This will include common touch points such as the e-kiosks, concession counters, hand railings, lift buttons and escalator handles, among others,” he added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Finas urged to publish list of grant recipients to prevent misappropriation

The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) has been urged to list all the recipients of its grants or funds and make the list public to address the issue of misappropriation of funds in the film industry.

Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) president, Panchacharam Nalliah, also known as Pansha, said the list should be published on Finas’ website as practised by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and other government agencies.

He said production companies or individuals who had received grants or funds from the corporation but failed to deliver should be blacklisted or face legal action.

“(Finas also needs to) work with local film associations to blacklist their members, whether production companies or individuals (art activists) found irresponsible after being given the opportunity to receive the grants,” he said in the statement.

Finas chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid was recently reported as saying that RM30 million of funds for the making of films had been misappropriated by some industry players for personal gain.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

282 PJ entertainment outlet patrons compounded for flouting RMCO

A total of 282 people at an entertainment outlet in Petaling Jaya were slapped with RM1,000 compound each on Saturday for violating the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

Petaling Jaya District Police chief ACP Nik Ezanee Mohd Faizal said in a statement today that in the 11.30 pm inspection of the premises in Tropicana Damansara, the owner of the outlet was also compounded for failing to limit the number of patrons and maintain physical distancing.

During the same inspection, police also arrested two foreign women, both aged 20, for overstaying and not possessing a valid pass to stay in Malaysia under Sections 15(1)(c) and 6(1)(c) respectively of the Immigration Act 1959/63.

On a separate matter, Nik Ezanee said four men and a woman, aged between 23 and 39, were detained for driving under the influence of alcohol during a two-day operation codenamed Op Alkohol on Friday (Sept 11) and Saturday (Sept 12).

“They are being investigated under Section 45(A)1 of the Road Transport Act 1987,” he said.

Throughout the two-day operation, 564 vehicles were inspected and, apart from the five arrested, 48 road users were issued summonses for various traffic offences, including driving or riding without a valid licence.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Netflix unveils user interface in Bahasa Melayu


KUALA LUMPUR Netflix has launched its user interface (UI) in Bahasa Melayu that enables members in Malaysia to navigate the UI, read title names and synopses, and also watch shows and movies with Bahasa Melayu subtitles and dubs.


“Netflix believes in giving members control over their entire entertainment experience and surely will improve their viewing experience and better suit Malaysians who prefer consuming Netflix in their national language,” said a Netflix spokesperson in a  Zoom meeting on “Netflix Unveils New Feature For Malaysia”.


“The Bahasa Melayu UI option will give families more flexibility as members will be able to switch their profile to Bahasa Melayu from the language option that has up to 30 languages in the ‘Manage Profile’ section on their devices,” he added.




The complete Netflix experience in Bahasa Melayu, from sign-up to search rows, collections and payment, is available across all platforms including on phones, tablets, desktops, TV, even PlayStations.


The spokesman said that Netflix members can set up to five profiles in each account, and each profile can have its own language setting and even Netflix members outside of Malaysia will also have the option to switch their user interface to Bahasa Melayu.


Netflix also aims to bring Malaysian stories to a global audience and hence, on Sept 16, users will be able to watch the new show conducted by Dr Jason Leong: Hashtag Blessed, he added.


Source: BERNAMA News Agency

An Italian’s love affair with Malaysian cuisine – thanks to his wife

KUALA LUMPUR The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. And so it proved for Italian Francesco De Leonardis as the first taste of nasi campur (mixed rice) at a buffet on his akad nikah (solemnisation) ceremony in London 14 years ago kicked started his love for traditional Malaysian cuisine.

The 40-year-old, who now goes by the name Daniyal Yaqeen and lives in South East England, has credited his Malaysian wife, Eita Salehoddin, also 40, for his gastronomic discovery.

“First time (eating Malaysian food) was after our nikah in London. We went down to the MSD (Malaysian Student Department) where there is a (Malaysia Hall) canteen. There was a nice buffet, which had nasi campur.

“Some dishes were too spicy but, eventually, I began to like them more and more. That was when I started to explore (Malaysian food) and now here I am, having already tried lots of different dishes,” he told Bernama recently via Zoom.

Daniyal, who has so far sampled laksa Johor, laksa Penang as well as various other Malaysian rice dishes, simply can’t get enough of tauhu bergedil (stuffed tofu) and any type of curry dish, “provided they are not too spicy”.

Eita, who hails from Muar, Johor, said she felt truly touched to see her husband adapting so well to Malaysian food and culture.

“I really appreciate it as a Malaysian. I know that some people here aren’t very open in terms of accepting a new culture and new cuisine.

“I am actually proud of him in that sense, and we can now relate with each other more,” she said.

To further encourage her husband’s love for Malaysian food, she also features him in her YouTube cooking channel, called “Cooking with Eita”, where she usually cooks up a storm by preparing traditional Malay dishes like ‘daging masak hitam cara orang Perak’ and ‘Beriyani Komak’ from scratch.

To show how much he has embraced our local culture, Daniyal can also be seen on the videos wearing the kain pelikat (sarong for men) and speaking in Malay while helping his wife cook.

Asked how he developed the habit of wearing the sarong, he said he got it as a hantaran (wedding gift) during his akad nikah and started wearing to follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law.

“Eita’s father wears it and I thought it was quite nice. Coming home from work, wearing it feels sort of more formal in the house and, of course, it’s very useful for praying.

“Also, it (wearing sarong) feels like having a little more freedom,” he said, referring to the unbridled freedom of aeration movement.

The couple, who currently resides in the town of Reading, Berkshire, used to visit Malaysia quite often. However, the travel restrictions put in place following the global COVID-19 pandemic mean they have not been able to travel here in the last few months, leaving them missing the country — and the chance to sample more of its glorious and sumptuous cuisine.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Two main points agreed upon after first round of talks to amend FINAS Act – Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA Two main points were agreed upon following today’s first round of talks to amend the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Act 1981 (Act 244), said Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

The discussion, chaired by him, was also attended by officers from the ministry and FINAS, representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, lawyers and industry stakeholders.

He said the first point agreed upon was on the workflow for the amendment process involving policy determination; engagement with the stakeholders, including the government, industry, civil society, academics and Members of Parliament; as well as comparisons with relevant laws in other countries.

Secondly, he said, it was agreed that the drafting of the bill would involve several main points, which include the position of social media users in producing material for sharing on the platform; improvement of existing rules; and the provision of a new definition to the existing definition in Act 244.

“The second round of discussions will be held in the first week of September to fine-tune details discussed today. I’m confident these efforts will bear fruit towards realising and empowering the ecosystem of the country’s creative industry,” he said in a statement today.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency