Non-festive Chinese New Year at KLIA

Landing in Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost and international airport a couple of days just before Chinese New Year is depressing.

There are perfunctory signboards and decorations to mark the Lunar new year but there is nothing festive about it. There is no longer the annoying raucous Chinese New Year music that used to annoy me but now I miss.

The upbeat tunes full of drum beats, cymbal clashes and effusive lyrics wishing prosperity, luck and whatnot are no longer played over the public address system and even in shops and restaurants.

It’s as if Chinese New Year has to sneak into Malaysia, afraid of making any noise lest it annoy the Ketuanan of this land.

So a muted silence prevails and, combined with the under-air-conditioned halls in the low-cost and international airports give the visitor the nuances of a joyless country. (I landed at the low-cost airport from busy, vibrant Chiang Mai and then went to the international airport to wait for someone to arrive)

Was it so long ago when Malaysians would be so proud because everyone celebrated everyone else’s festive days? Or have I been reimagining my past life in Malaysia?

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