MAY 3 — We, the members of G25 Malaysia, call upon all Malaysians, rich and poor, urban and rural, employers and employees, to take the responsible attitude that although the government has partially lifted the Movement Control Order (MCO) restrictions to reactivate economic activities and allow more freedom of movement, we must continue to conduct our daily life in a considerate, careful and safe manner so as to protect the country from the spread of Covid-19, and to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.

We should take note that some countries that relaxed the restrictions too soon have seen a second wave of the pandemic returning to kill more lives. There are reports from university research in the West that the Covid-19 virus may remain active and contagious for another year or two. The vaccine to treat the disease will take, even with the most optimistic outlook at least twelve to eighteen months from now to be introduced for use across the world. The testing capacity in our country, as also in some other countries, has still not achieved the desired coverage to give us the true incidence of infection, which once it has shown a significant reduction, will give us the confidence that pandemic is coming to an end.

In addition to these challenges, the government also has the task of determining to what extent the foreign workers in this country are infected, especially those who are undocumented and who have been hiding from the authorities for fear of arrests and detention.

We call upon the government to take a humanitarian approach in examining their health conditions because the high-handed style raids and mass arrests will be counter-productive, because this will deter them from coming forward to get tested. The longer the delay in determining their health status, the more difficult it is to know the trend of the pandemic and to contain and end it.

We condemn the xenophobic hatred shown towards the migrant workers by some Malaysians. Malaysians must realise that the migrant workers, whether legal or undocumented, are employed in the various economic sectors of this country and they contribute substantially to our economy doing the 3-D jobs (dirty, dangerous and difficult), jobs that we, Malaysians, shun. Many of them were brought into this country by their unscrupulous agents at high costs borne by the workers and on the false promise of getting work permits and jobs for them in the country. There are also allegations of bribery and corruption in government departments in the approval of licenses to import foreign labour. Some agents have taken advantage of their license by bringing in more foreign workers than what the employers actually needed. The government must accept responsibility for the excessive number of foreign workers in the country and the infiltration of illegal entrants across the immigration controls and border patrols. Therefore, our political leaders should put a stop to this hate-mongering and xenophobia against foreign workers as this is utterly wrong and jeopardises the effort to end the pandemic and to keep the country safe.

The Malaysian public has grown accustomed to the discipline of the stay-at-home order under the MCO to take self-distancing and personal hygiene seriously as the most effective means of winning the war against the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the MCO will be increasingly relaxed come this 4th May, we, Malaysians, however, must behave responsibly so as not to undo the progress which has been made under the excellent leadership of the Ministry of Health, and the relentless service of its staff especially the frontliners. Everyone must do his or her patriotic duty under the conditional MCO (CMCO) to keep ourselves and those around us free from the virus.

As the CMCO is imposed and we slowly get back to our pre-MCO routines, we must not forget those in need and must continue to do what we can to help people from the vulnerable groups of our society. This includes the poor, elderly, people with disabilities, single mothers, and children. The selfless actions and nation-wide movements to help one another which were spurred by the effects of virus, and in turn the MCO, must continue in the spirit of charity and togetherness. In the face of hardships, we saw Malaysians unite to help each other despite the masks, walls, and distance that separated us. We must all do what we can and support the NGOs who will continue to help those in need as many return to work. Let the support, kindness, and consideration shown during this pandemic be the “new normal”.

*G25 is a group of influential Malays, and as a civil society organisation, aims to play a constructive role as the voice of moderation on religion.

**This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.