MARCH 9 — A Malaysian CEO tweeted this week: “Good move reopening borders. Not much govt can do anymore beyond this.”

The constant refrain that the government “can't do more” is ridiculous to me.

It can't be denied that the government has done a lot but whether those actions were warranted, or useful, is debatable.

Already there have been loud voices calling for the scrapping of mask mandates which I'm sure Bangsar Karen would gladly support.

Anything can happen from now until April 1 when the floodgates will open and there will no longer be crowd limits and border lockdowns.

The Tourism Ministry and the industry in general needs to temper its hopes because China isn't letting its citizens go anywhere, what more to come have our char kuey teow or crowd our hotel buffets.

Let's also be realistic ― with Indonesia's Bali and Thailand both open for business, Malaysia will find it a challenge to compete, especially as the moral police are intent on turning duty-free havens such as Langkawi teetotal.

We had two years to figure out how to do things differently, in new and exciting ways.

Instead the strategy seemed to be hunkering down, pleading with the government for incentives and to open borders post-haste and doing things the same way we did before a virus was killing so many people.

The pandemic proved we can work from home ― but the government wants us back filling up offices and roads.

The pandemic showed us we need to make healthcare and nutrition more accessible to the poor ― the government quibbles about retaining doctors and paying cleaners what they're owed.

I observed in the last month that relaxing of SOPs has created traffic jams at the worst possible time.

Imagine roads and parking lots in the Klang Valley being full, right as heavy rains cause massively damaging flash floods.

If people had been at home they'd still have their cars instead of huge car repair bills.

For some people their cars might even be total losses and they would be stuck paying the loan without having a working car.

Maybe that's the way we'll finally get universal work from home, by campaigning with the slogan: “Stay Home, Save Your Cars.”

People wearing face masks walk along Saloma Bridge in Kuala Lumpur, February 18, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
People wearing face masks walk along Saloma Bridge in Kuala Lumpur, February 18, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Malaysia desperately needs change at all levels and I'm not talking about elections.

We need to rethink how we live, how we work, how we take care of each other and how we need to get off the paths we previously thought were the only ones we could take.

People have more agency than we think and no, it's not about trying to save turtles by banning straws and plastic bags.

It's about holding the government, councils, industries and companies responsible before Malaysia becomes just one plague-ridden car park swimming pool.

Climate change is real and so is apathy and for us to conquer the former, we need to get rid of the latter.

We cannot keep leaving pandemic safety and climate change up to personal responsibility -- what use is an electric car when you can't charge it in a flood?

What use is a government that will let its poorest and most vulnerable die from either floods or the pandemic?

Transitioning to a supposed endemic status is putting the cart before the horse and let us stop, dear Malaysians, from shaming each other when the people who should feel the most shame are sitting pretty on council and parliament seats.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.