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No humour in a burning building — Dharm Navaratnam

FEBRUARY 13 — Today we were hit with the shocking news that the EPF building in Petaling Jaya was burning.  Yes, I say burning because as the flames licked the building, social media was also aflame with not just news of the building on fire but pictures and video feeds as well. As the building burnt.

People travelling along the Federal Highway, no doubt jammed due to the fire, were taking videos and pictures and sending them on WhatsApp and other social media. Quick on the heels of these pictures were comments and jokes about how our EPF savings were up in flames. Some even felt it was prudent to make reference to the EPF dividend declaration announced just two days ago and insinuate that the dividends would not be available to members since the building was up in flames.

Then there were other ‘news’ that alluded to an ‘official announcement’ by the EPF that due to the fire, all withdrawals would be withheld for six months while their IT systems were fixed and repaired. There were a lot of other jokes about confidential and sensitive documents being burnt or purged and other false news being circulated as well. 

Well done, Malaysia. Well done, Malaysians. 

While the building burnt, you were all more intent on circulating false news than worrying about the fate of the people in the building. You were more intent on worrying about whether your savings were affected or about the integrity of data and IT systems than the lives of people. 

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that EPF is one of the most IT-savvy agencies around. The simple fact that your EPF records and statements are available online will tell you this. You would also know that most if not all companies and agencies that have IT systems would have a Disaster Recovery system in place that would enable them to get back into operations within a day or two. 

It is sad to see how myopic and negative we have become as a people that every disaster is looked at as a means to make a joke or to belittle the country. The fire was obviously a big one as it was reported that 40% of the building was engulfed in flames. And yet, hardly a social media message seemed to be concerned with the safety and welfare of the people in the building.

We, as a people, seem to be more concerned about the amount of sugar in Milo.  There was certainly a lot of fuss and kerfuffle on social media about how dangerous Milo is and how it can kill. Rather ironic really that we seem more concerned with Milo than we are concerned about the safety and welfare of people caught in a burning building. Making jokes and conspiracy theories seem to be more important too than the potential loss of lives and a building in a fire.  I’m just thankful there were no casualties reported and that the fire was put out.

Bravo once again, Malaysians.

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

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