Necessary to review decision to re-open schools — Stephen Ng

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MARCH 7 — The case of a boy from SJK Kong Hoe in Klang tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the closure of the whole class 1K for one week, shows that the decision by the National Security Council may need to be reviewed again.

This confirms my fears as a parent, when the Minister of Education, Dr. Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced the new school year to begin on March 1.

From a brief survey which I did, my understanding is that parents of primary school children are, in fact, very concerned about their children’s safety.

A student has his temperature checked at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cator Avenue, Ipoh as schools reopen March 1, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib
A student has his temperature checked at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cator Avenue, Ipoh as schools reopen March 1, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib

If adults themselves cannot comply, children are the ones who are hardest to be supervised to ensure that standard operating procedures are being followed strictly.

A school teacher’s feedback reveals her own concerns: “When students leave the school gates in packed school buses, or when they meet their friends in the canteen, it is beyond the school’s control.”

At a time when the lawmakers themselves are fearful of convening the parliamentary session scheduled on March 8, why are our children being subjected to the risk of contracting Covid-19? Is this a right decision by the NSC?

In fact, a lot of decisions that I see made by the NSC appear to be made in the ivory tower and may have not been properly discussed.

For example, I found myself in a situation where my wife and I had to drive our children in two separate cars just to pay a visit to my Mom. And, to visit her on the first day of the Chinese New Year, we had to cross from the state of Selangor to the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

Moreover, the 10km radius that was earlier set by the NSC had not been properly defined, causing a confusion in the general public. Even the law enforcement has no clue of how to enforce it.

I have read some of the messages in the social media that people have been issued summonses because they had “crossed” the districts even though the distance is only a short distance. Everything is left to the individual law enforcer, and to me, these rules simply do not make sense.

Not to mention that self-quarantine for ministers is revised to only three days, while all other ordinary people have to go through 10 days of quarantine.

This has caused a friend of mine to miss even the funeral of his late wife when, despite being a permanent resident in Malaysia, it took the Immigrations so long to process his application for re-entry, while in another case, the daughter of a former editor of a newspaper was allowed to attend the funeral on the next day after arrival.

While rules are rules, special exemptions should be given so long as protective gear is worn, especially in circumstances when relatives of the deceased need to be around their loved ones.

Public outrage over the long leave approved for the Member of Parliament of Segamat Edmund Santhara to be with his family in New Zealand has also raised the need for the minister-in-charge of the National Security Council, Ismail Sabry to put his ears to the ground.

Policies and laws have to be formulated based on standard procedures that are advised by medical experts, not to be made or announced arbitrarily, only to be explained again. As I pointed out earlier, I had made an observation of the way how the NSC formulated its policy about scanning the MySejahtera QR code at petrol stations, which later had to be explained again.

This has happened too frequently that one cannot help but make a mockery of the way how rules are made “in the interest of the people.” Please prick up your ears and put on the thinking cap before coming out with another rule.

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

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