No 'yam seng' to latecomers at wedding dinners

IT IS most laudable that the MCA has now formulated guidelines for holding of dinner gatherings by the Chinese community in the country (The Star, Oct 28). Amongst the guidelines are the completion of the dinner functions in two hours, the punctual arrival of guests and the timing of serving food.

There exist many old practices among the Chinese community that should have been discarded long ago, as they are out of place in this modern and progressive society. One such old practice is the late arrival of guests, deliberately or otherwise, for Chinese wedding dinners.

Many have attended Chinese wedding receptions of their relatives and friends; but not many have enjoyed attending such functions. The most common complaint is the late arrival of guests and, therefore, the reception could not commence on time.

It is not uncommon in a Chinese wedding dinner for food to be served more than an hour after the reception is supposed to commence. It may be that many of us have inherited the bad habits from our forefathers. In the old days it was really a hassle to host a Chinese wedding dinner.

In those days, in addition to sending of wedding invitation cards, the bridegroom or his close relatives would have to go and invite the guests in person and might even have to fetch them to the reception. It was perceived then that one would appear to be hungry or greedy to go to a wedding reception on time.

So, the later one arrived at the reception, the lesser one would appear to be not "hard up for the food"! It is a pity that as we are entering the next millennium, such an antiquated thinking and behaviour has not been completely gotten rid of.

However, under the present circumstances, punctuality seems to be the root of all evil; it is simply that old habits die hard. It can also be observed that guests would still come late for the function even if the food were to be served on time. They may be late, but they would not go away hungry as the food served is always excessive even for a six-course dinner.

If people cannot kick the bad habit of being perpetually late for any function, it would appear then that the only way to ensure that latecomers do not get the chance to attend a dinner reception is to hold it on board a ship or a floating restaurant. The habitual latecomers would definitely miss the boat if the ship or the floating restaurant were to sail away when the dinner starts at the appointed time!

It is most unfair and inconsiderate for those who habitually arrive late for any function as those who are punctual would have to waste time waiting for them. It is high time that these unscrupulous latecomers shed their antiquated mentality and change their mindsets to face the next millennium lest they lag far behind.

Note: The above was published in The Star on 01/11/97. 2008