New Covid-19 cases have breached the 13,000 mark today. Death rates are not falling nor do they show any sign of stabilising.
So many people face financial hardship, and some even have to hoist the white flag to seek help.
Hardly any of 72 well-paid cabinet members are in the news to comfort and reassure the people.
This cannot go on. The unending ‘total lockdown’ has crippled the livelihoods of many while a growing number of workers in factories, construction and plantations are susceptible to Covid.
The people want to see the nation steered out of the health, economic and political crises.
Several hospitals are on the brink of collapse. Frontline health workers are exhausted. Oxygen supplies are being used up.
But the prime minister and his dozens of appointees have given us few signs of hope. If this is not total failure, then what is?
Only the people can reset the nation
The way Covid is being managed (or rather mismanaged) in Malaysia reveals a harsher truth.
The main reason the country is suffering can be found in the realm of politics.
Look at the lack of political will, the abuse of power and the corrupt conduct of politicians. Notice the opulent lifestyles of most of our politicians, their business indulgences and their secret proxies, and the unrelenting political war games.
All of these and more may explain why so many people are suffering unnecessarily from during this pandemic. A country cannot be saved as long as its leaders are looking out for their own interests.
White flags and long queues for food rations are symptoms of a struggling society, while politicians and their families have amassed wealth.
Many ordinary people are fighting for their lives in overcrowded hospitals and tents. The lack of medical and healthcare support and overburdened staff show how politicians have failed with their policies and empty promises. Meanwhile, reports of environmental plundering point to politicians who must be held accountable for not protecting these gifts of nature.
Ordinary people are asking searching questions. Where did all the decades of oil money go? What happened to all the benefits of foreign investments? Where has all our tax money gone?
All these suggest that politicians have failed miserably in managing a resource-rich nation. What has happened to the wealth of this nation?
Whatever remedies politicians proudly dished out do not seem to be working anymore. Now we see people queuing up for food rations and withdrawing their meagre retirement savings. Others land up on the streets, unable to pay rent. The unemployed are desperately seeking low-wage jobs in food delivery.
And then we hear of politicians fleeing the country to foreign lands – for holidays, family matters and what-have-you – in the thick of severe national crises.
Some politicians brazenly break the very laws and Covid rules they and their colleagues put in place. When exposed in social media, they even have the gall to say “maaf yeah”, knowing they only have to pay a paltry (for them) fine.
Some even are mean enough to tease the suffering people by showing pictures of themselves eating instant noodles while wearing watches and jewelled rings worth a fortune.
Covid has exposed without fear or favour the real culprits who have brought immense havoc to this nation.
NGOs, professional bodies, religious groups and prominent citizens should demand a political reset. Either we do it now or continue lamenting over social media every day.
Healthcare system in dire straits
While the people may get amused with the ‘Spanish fly’ and a university has all the time and resources to invite the health minister to entertain them with a talk, the Malaysian healthcare system appears to be on the brink of collapse.
All media must drop their safe reporting and do national service by reporting the truth instead of surfing along the fringes of political correctness.
An audio recording is circulating on social media suggesting that some frontline health workers are on the verge of breaking down when confronted with the reality of Covid cases piling up and corpses lying on the floor.
If this is not a tragic crisis compounded by gross human failure and irresponsibility, I don’t know what is.
I would have thought by now the entire cabinet would be mobilised to do all they can to coordinate personnel, experts, resources and funds to ease this crisis.
By now, there should have been massive help in the way of facilities and supplies, using every means possible. This should have included seeking immediate help from other countries and ensuring that people do not have to queue up for hours in the sun and drizzle just to get swab tests done.
Instead, our news feeds show ministers in suits giving talks here and there. Others in officialdom engage in walkabouts with all the usual rombongan (entourage). A couple of politicians have even gone abroad. One had time for a pleasant tour, another is there to attend to family matters. Another even had time to get remarried online.
What have we not learnt from this pandemic that struck other nations months before the third wave arrived?
The government is responsible for the mental, emotional and physical breakdown of any health worker who is battling against so many odds including the ridiculous bureaucracy.
I hope the media report on the authenticity of the audio recording that is circulating because no one should be in ignorance if we want to come out of this pandemic alive.
Observe physical distancing and indoor ventilation
Whatever strategy the Perikatan Nasional government is relying on has to surrender to back-to-basics common sense. The government has to rely on the community to arrest the pandemic.
Despite the lockdowns that restrict people to within 10km of their homes, the cases kept rising. Despite the assortment of ‘movement control orders’, the cases still kept rising. Despite the work-from-home orders or reduced workforce strategies or permits allowing businesses to resume work, new cases and death tolls soared. What does this tell us?
Standard Covid-prevention measures should be our foremost line of defence – not blanket lockdowns, varying lockdowns and economic rescue plans.
The strict and correct use of face masks and face shields, regular washing of hands with soap and water, and physical distancing of at least three meters in public are crucial.
Crowding has to be eliminated through strict enforcement, whether in public transport, public spaces or in buildings. This is key to managing the spread of the virus.
With most buildings constructed without enough open-air ventilation, enclosed fully air-conditioned spaces will only hasten the spread of the virus.
The sensible thing to do is to focus on preventive measures and enforce them. Use all the enforcement agencies to ensure compliance. For as long as we keep our physical distancing of three metres and wear face masks outdoors, we are unlikely to spread or catch the bug.
It is the workplace that needs redefining. It calls for effective, strict enforcement with zero corrupt practices. Business owners must play their role by not putting profits above safety or flouting the Covid rules.
If a workplace cannot observe these rules, they should never be allowed to operate, no matter what the economic loss may be. After all, over half the infections come from workplace or factory clusters.