KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― Two years ago today, Malaysia went into its first lockdown. Shops, offices, airports, our borders... everything closed.

We were told to stay home. To shelter in place.

Our photographers went all over the city to chronicle the changes and brought us pictures throughout the lockdowns, reopenings and everything in between.

But which were the pictures that touched them the most? Not the best composed pictures or the most dramatic... but scenes that stood out for them.

Over the next three days, we will share these pictures with you. Here Shafwan Zaidon (with the help of reporter Keertan Ayamany) tells us why these three pictures moved him the most.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 18, 2020

This photo was taken on the first day of the movement control order (MCO), March 18, 2020 when the government closed all borders, both international and domestic, as a way to contain Covid-19 outbreaks.

It was my second day monitoring the Kuala Lumpur International Airport during this uncertain period.

This man sitting on his trolley full of luggage immediately attracted my attention and prompted me to capture the moment.

He had headphones on and was resting his head on his hands... searching for serenity in chaos? Something we all tried to do during that first year of the pandemic.

Dealing with a new disease is not easy, but we try to calm ourselves in whatever way we can.

Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur on May 5, 2020

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) became the new uniform of the medical frontliners and they wore it daily without any sigh of despair. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) became the new uniform of the medical frontliners and they wore it daily without any sigh of despair. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Watching the medical frontliners working in the field while fighting an invisible enemy is a memory that I can’t forget.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) became their new uniform and they wore it daily without any sigh of despair.

This photo was taken during the Ramadan month, during one of the operations by the Health Ministry to curb a Covid-19 cluster spreading in Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur on May 5, 2020.

They were gathering and testing foreign workers in the area.

I was in a dilemma; most of the time photographers aren’t allowed to take photographs in a Covid-19 red zone but after receiving information about the operation, I decided to try my luck.

 

Thankfully my instincts were right, as the authorities welcomed me when I arrived at the operation area.

For me, documenting and capturing the hard work of frontliners is important. They are the nation's warriors whom we need to remember.

As a photojournalist, I believe in the power of photographs to project the truth of what happened.

Selangor-Negri Sembilan border, near Bandar Bukit Makhota in Bangi on May 13, 2021

The photographer went to the Selangor-Negri Sembilan border — near Bandar Bukit Makhota, Bangi — to see how people were celebrating the occasion. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The photographer went to the Selangor-Negri Sembilan border — near Bandar Bukit Makhota, Bangi — to see how people were celebrating the occasion. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

One year into the pandemic, I was on a search for stories that people could relate to.

So during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, after finishing my own Raya prayers in the morning, I went to the Selangor-Negri Sembilan border — near Bandar Bukit Makhota, Bangi — to see how people were celebrating the occasion.

I scouted locations with my photographer friends, and saw a few families mingling at a blockade. They shared a lighthearted moment, while separated by barbed wires and stone slabs, by taking selfies and exchanging meals.

My heart was full when I saw this moment — a woman hugging a man across the barrier. I believe they were family members who had not seen each other for a long time.

It reminded me of how thankful I was that I still managed to celebrate Raya with my family.