The pandemic showed us the dangers of incompetence

FEBRUARY 10 — I have been avoiding social media this month for the sake of my sanity as this job exposes me enough to current affairs.

Likely there is plenty of anger to find online after our health minister declared that ministers would get special dispensation to only serve three days in isolation instead of the usual 10.

Do our elected ministers have some sort of superpower that ensures they will not be infectious after three days?

The current speculation online (yes, I peeped) is that they have been vaccinated without public knowledge.

Vaccinated or not, shouldn't our health minister know that even with a vaccine, there is no guarantee that someone exposed to Covid-19 will not get it?

The recent announcement that contact tracing would be prioritised for those showing symptoms also makes no sense when many carriers were asymptomatic.

I sometimes wonder if our current health practices are being decided by a blindfolded cat made to press buttons.

Now more than ever we need capable leadership. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Now more than ever we need capable leadership. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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It really shouldn't take a pandemic to educate Malaysians that important positions, ones that literally affect life or death, should be made on the basis of what a person can do and not who that person is.

Race, faith, lineage, gender, political leanings — none of those should matter when it comes to selecting people to keep us safe in the midst of a global pandemic.

Yet we seem to keep falling into the same patterns, again and again.

Our deaths have climbed into the double figures and where once we would have death-free days, people are dying of the disease every day.

So what if they were old?

So what if they had pre-existing conditions?

So what if they were Malaysian or non-Malaysian?

Not a single death was deserved, and not a single death can be argued as non-preventable.

It has been a year and yet our Covid strategy has been a mess, with a little too much playing by ear, and non-experts speaking over experts.

Look at how our lockdown SOPs keep getting changed at the last minute or are formulated overnight, with anything being changeable.

Work-from-home orders seem to be unenforceable judging from the many premises that refuse to keep their workers at home, using paper-thin justifications to keep staff coming to the office.

The highways are still busy, our trains are still full.

Without government aid, many people cannot afford not to go to work and yet there is buzz about punishing SOP flouters more severely when it isn't their fault the cases rose this quickly.

If only some people hadn't tried to buy a state government and forced an election.

If only someone had the foresight to ban inter-state travel during the end-year holiday season.

Our numbers are still high, death tolls a constant and yet already we are seeing the government open tenders for election paraphernalia. 

What is even more disheartening is seeing Malaysians say they no longer believe in the election process; what point is there to vote when officials play musical chairs with parties and coalitions?

I think voting still matters. At the very least, the pandemic has exposed just how selfish many of our politicians are, chasing titles and perks while many Malaysians lose livelihoods and endanger their health.

Voting has become even more important and if this government forces an election in the middle of a pandemic, let us at least demand proper SOPs -- a longer election duration if possible, and severe consequences for whichever idiot decides to not wear masks or social distance while campaigning.

If we cannot have longer polling times, then stretch the days so people can vote later to keep queues short, with sanitisers at the ready. 

Make sure everyone wears a mask though at this point I would suggest making iron ones with keys for our politicians so they will keep them on. Even better, don't give them the keys until the election ends and if they need to eat, just sip things through straws.

If it sounds like I lack compassion, I think it is far less compassionate to not consider the welfare of poor Malaysians during a second MCO. 

I am tired of my fellow Malaysians dying, and I am angry, knowing they didn't need to die for the sheer lack of competence being displayed right now.

All we can do now is try and survive this greater plague — a lack of leadership, empathy and expertise.

May God help us because prayer might be all we have right now.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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