With just 12 months of Covid-19 paralysis, this rich nation of ours is already facing immense difficulties.
With many experts predict a buckling global scenario in the months ahead, we can only wonder what fate has in store.
Recently, a crowd of over 2,000 people converged on the roads leading to Putrajaya, just to collect a free, frozen chicken each. That spoke volumes about the desperate situation many people are in.
With so many uncertainties ahead of us, the urgent question why are we seeing such poverty levels so soon? Whatever happened to the decades when leaders drummed up public sentiment with our high economic growth rates?
What happened to all the good news of enormous investments that government entities reported in the past?
Whatever happened to the ‘rich and stable’ country that we once announced to the world? Can we imagine our situation by the middle of the year?
Who is the prime culprit who put an entire nation in such a vulnerable state in just 12 months?
Let us stop pretending. Even an ’emergency’ ordinance cannot hide the financial hardships and political instability the country is currently facing.
All we are hearing are stop-gap measures, soothing promises and stern warnings.
Maybe some will say the 2,000 crowd that descended in Putrajaya for free frozen chickens was just a mischievous exaggeration. Or perhaps some might argue that people will rush for anything that is free – even if it is just one free bird after hours of queuing.
But we cannot escape the radar of accountability by burying all truths under the carpet of the pandemic.
We are seeing now is the result of national mismanagement amid widespread corruption over the years.
That alone is the truth. All else is politicising, as otherwise our national reserves should have made the distribution of free chicken unnecessary.
Let compassion guide us in combating pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to test all dimensions of society, let us as a nation not lose focus on the power of compassion.
I witness local authorities and law enforcers pushing ahead with enforcement that leaves a significant number of people burdened with summonses.
Local councils appear to be out issuing summonses to motorists, shop owners and hawkers nationwide for various offences, even in this climate of a forced national emergency.
Police have mounted speed cameras along the few roads where people are still free to move around during this lockdown. The Covid climate is already pressing people. Don’t make life more difficult, please.
The pressures of lost jobs, pay cuts, business losses, loan recalls and defaults, fear of succumbing to the deadly virus – all this piles on serious psychological duress that citizens have to endure.
If that’s not enough, we also have political instability as politicians are fighting tooth and nail to cling on to power or to wrest political control out of desperation.
So I plead with the authorities and policymakers to go easy with the people.
Here are some ideas for compassion to rule:
- Do away with public parking rates or at least give significant discounts in these difficult times
- Go easy with ‘no parking coupon’ fines. Facilitate a smoother flow of traffic instead
- Place more patrol cars on local roads. Heavy traffic penalties only aggravate the people’s suffering
- Coordinate and mobilise NGOs with the right support and assistance so that people can use these avenues to easily participate in humanitarian activities
Instead of relying on an emergency situation, make the movement control order more respected. After all, most people are not violently or aggressively disobedient people.
With greater compassion and care, we can weather these difficult times and unknown future with stronger moral force.
Will the battering from Covid reset Malaysia?
The world is reeling under wave after wave of the pandemic.
Politics, economics and societal values are being tested like never before, as nations reel under the health scare that is yet to run its full course after a year.
For tiny Malaysia, with a diverse 30 million population, the time has arrived for us to look reality in the eye. The time has come for us to consider an inevitable national reset of policies, values and priorities. If we lose this opportunity unearthed by a global crisis, Malaysia could become a backwater state.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime choice: will we miss it or join the nations around the globe that are ready to make a change? Will we want to tackle our political, religious and societal values (or lack of) with honesty and courage?
Or will the political leaders shun the opportunity for fear of losing their popularity and grip on power and wealth?
Will our technocrats and business communities want to review and reset their obsession with profits at all costs, instead of looking at the big picture: returning to society what rightfully belongs to all of humanity?
Will our religious leaders take up the challenge to let universalism be the ultimate and sacrosanct virtue to be upheld instead of hiding behind the rules of convenience and the narrow rigours of their religious preaching to herd the masses through narrow pathways?
Will we have the intellectual and moral strength and capability to bulldoze the roadblocks in our education system and empower institutions to bring out the best in our children and grandchildren in order to build a post-Covid future? Will we be a part of a new civilisation of knowledge and skills or remain blinkered again?
Will our policymakers and appointed moral vanguards break free from the hypocritical barriers of discrimination mounted against our growing LGBT communities? Will we see the world through a larger lens of acceptance?
Is there hope for Malaysia?
Will we have the courage, will and honesty to press the reset button now or wait another 50 years with our make-believe, tutup-satu-mata (close-an-eye) existence, laden with self-denial?