It is time to plan for everyone’s future not our own interest

People dining at a restaurant in Selangor as the conditional movement control order kicks in October 14, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
People dining at a restaurant in Selangor as the conditional movement control order kicks in October 14, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

COMMENTARY, Oct 30 — The question that is foremost on the minds of most Malaysians is where is their next bowl of rice is going to come from as Covid-19 hits the economy hard as the third wave of the pandemic ravages through the country.

However, to some people the so-called leaders of the country, their mind is concentrated on plans around getting into or maintaining power, who should be the Prime Minister, should there be a deputy prime minister, a vote of no-confidence, an emergency and the protection of democracy.

But do the ordinary folk really care about all these things? To put it simply — no, they do not. Their main concentration is the bread and butter stuff — for bosses, it’s planning how to pay the salaries of their staff for the month and for staff, will they get any money at the end of the month.

Just when the people thought the worse was over, the third wave hit in September. A friend who owns a chain of restaurants had only issued a letter to all his staff re-instating them to their full salary in August as business seemed to have picked up but just yesterday, he had to sign letters informing them of new pay cuts.

No doubt, as in the words of Health director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah, the country should recover in three to four weeks as the tough conditional movement control order (CMCO) takes effect to reduce the number of infections, especially in Sabah and Selangor.

The disease is in our community and there is nothing we can do to get rid of it completely. We have to learn to live with it. Personal hygiene and following SOPs will be the only way to avoid being infected.

However, the power grab play by politicians leaves a bitter taste with the ordinary folk who are yearning for some forward planning by these leaders so that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel of despair.

Instead, people are beginning to give up and are beginning to turn on themselves as this pandemic not only threatens individual health but is tearing society apart because, in times of failure, the only thing left to do is to blame someone else.

This has already started, a friend remarked in a social media chat group that the Sabah infection rates should be left out as it confuses the situation. It is as if Sabah is not part of Malaysia.

A colleague told of his brother remarking that the latest outbreak in his state was caused by “Banglas” (a crude description of Bangladeshi foreign workers) as the ward at the district hospital being used to treat Covid-19 patients were full of these migrants.

This kind of finger pointing and blaming is a sign the country is being torn apart and the only way out of this national suicide is for a concerted plan to take the country — as one — towards all of us living together with the disease for the next one to two years.

Even if a vaccine is ever found, it will take that long to inoculate the whole country and so there needs to be a plan beyond just locking ourselves up at home and working from home.

Thailand and Singapore have come up with such plans and more importantly, they have told the world and their people what that plan is.

Singapore is seeking to inspire its people that they as a nation can overcome this tough time through videos. Its announcement is not only targeted at Singaporeans but to the whole world.

“Dear World, we are in the toughest crisis of our generation. But it is also in this time that we find the resilience, courage and ingenuity within us to take on the impossible. For the crisis of our generation can define us as the greatest generation yet”.

That was the message on the Singapore Economic Development Board YouTube channel.

Watch it here as it is quite inspiring. The video was released yesterday.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand realised that they were a lucky country with relatively small number of infections.

They came out with the “We miss you” campaign eight months ago and have released videos showing off what foreign tourists were missing out.

They modified their Amazing Thailand campaign by playing with the new social norms.

“Nature has so much to offer. In the world of new norms, things changed, including the ways to explore Thailand. But the happiness, the bliss, the fulfilled experiences still await, unchanged. This is Thailand working from our hearts getting ready to welcome you all back!”

This video was released in June.

What did we do?

On September 16, Tourism Malaysia through its Malaysia Truly Asia channel released a video on Sabah which is now the epicentre of our third wave.

The government, regardless of who it is, must develop a plan to inspire all of us to stay united and tell us what are their economic and social programmes not only to survive this pandemic but also what is in store for us in the next six months.

Everyone is doing their own thing and we are running around like headless chickens.

It doesn’t matter if you are in government or in the opposition, the burden is on all of you politicians to stop bickering and present to all of us your plan on how to take us forward.