Do our frontliners need to listen to our moaning?

JUNE 7 — About two weeks ago, I went to #cucukMyAZ. The whole process went smoothly; no long queues, everyone was helpful, etc. 

But I did notice something disturbing. 

Before entering the venue, I saw a couple people “unloading their angst” onto the policemen on duty about how this sign isn’t clear and that sign was confusing. 

Inside the hall, I also overheard at least one person bitch to the folks at the consultation tables about how he wasn’t sure if his appointment was going to happen. 

Now I think it’s perfectly fine to conduct 23-second chats with the  person checking to see if you’re healthy enough to get the jab, and it’s even better if your humour makes her laugh, but in this case the guy was treating the person vetting his approval form like a 24/7 Complaints Help Desk.

I mentioned this to some friends. A few of them (some had gone to different venues for their vaccinations) told me that even at the actual vacination booths, they heard some people moaning to the young nurses about how the risks of vaccination remain uncertain and, of course, there were the perennial gripes about how inefficient and incompetent the government has been since the dawn of time.

Seriously, folks, is this necessary?

The disabled wait to receive their Covid-19 jabs at the Malaysian Association for the Blind June 4, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The disabled wait to receive their Covid-19 jabs at the Malaysian Association for the Blind June 4, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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Our frontliners (police, queue assistants, admin staff, nurses, etc.) spend weeks and weeks risking their health so our country can flatten the curve. Would it absolutely kill us to quit moaning about the universe in general and Malaysia’s vaccination progress in particular for that duration of time we’re getting the jab?

Most of our frontliners have to tiringly stand around ushering people here and there, looking through a hundred boring-ass forms and asking a thousand monotonous questions of anxious people — would it be too much for us to do nothing more radical than a) obey b) smile c) be friendly and d) not gripe?

If I was Khairy Jamaluddin, I would be thinking that maybe all vaccination centres (PPVs) should have a sign that said ”Please Leave Your Pessimism and Hopelessness at the Entrance.”

Sure, I get it (who doesn’t?). Our government won’t win any medals for our MCO SOPs, our consistency, our “single standards”, our vaccination co-ordination and a ton of other stuff.

However, we shouldn’t have to attend some “motivation seminar” to realise there should be a limit to our grievances, to be aware that often our objections end up becoming a problem in themselves, especially when we unthinkingly offload our dissatisfactions onto the very people working to solve the problem.

What do we hope to achieve with our hyper-negativity?

Who knows, perhaps this is the fault of 24/7 social media blasting bad news in our faces, so maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to quit Twitter or certain WhatsApp groups for a few days. Or take the trouble to properly curate some good news for a change.

You know how, if you have investments in KLSE, you’ll have more peace and calm if you look at the counters less frequently? It’s the same with the news.

Four reasons for hope (but not complacency!)

Despite the slow arrival of vaccines (Singapore got their doses in early January, ours came in late February), within two and a half months our daily vaccination rate has risen WAY higher than the initial 25,000 doses a day. 

I think it says a lot when most Malaysians, even in late May, were unaware that the daily vaccination dosage rate had risen to more than 80,000 and even surpassed 100,000 on some days.

Why is it so few people were aware that the rate had risen, even though the numbers were already made public in mid-May, until the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) started promoting them in late May? 

My theory is that, just like how kids at a buffet tend to gravitate towards the desserts and ice-cream, media culture in general tends to lean towards the negative rather than positive. But what do I know?

Second reason for hope. 

The private sector is getting more and more involved, not to mention the planned increase in number of PPVs, we should expect the vaccination rate to go up even higher or, at the very least, keep steady at around 100,000 inoculations a day. 

Yes, yes, yes it’s still low and slow but unless my bitching can help maybe it’s time to consider an alternative personal modus operandi

Having said that, we can expect as of early June our percentage of population inoculated will exceed that of even Australia and Japan, not to mention a few other Asean countries. So while our government isn’t exactly that of New Zealand's, we’re not that abysmal either.

Third reason. At least among my family circles, I’ve noticed more and more of my uncles and aunts who were previously adamant against getting vaccinated eventually doing so. 

That’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it? I’m very sure it’s true for most people i.e. the number of opt-ins among Malaysians are rising. Fair enough, maybe it’s due to the high number of daily cases, maybe it’s because people are just shit-scared that what happened in India will happen here. Whatever the case, there are more people interested in getting vaccinated and that’s always a good thing.

The final reason for hope is the factor we began with: Our frontliners. 

They are our greatest reason to believe there will be some joyful light at the end of this tunnel. They’re giving of themselves every day, they’re working and fighting hard. Based on my one and a half hour experience, almost all of them are infinitely patient and helpful.

For their sake, if not for our mental health, maybe we should maintain good cheer and confidence (no matter what we read in the news). Despite all the incompetence and nonsense, our country can turn the corner soon.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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