I am fatigued by this godforsaken pandemic.
But I know I must carry on…for my family, for the people who depend on me, for myself, and ultimately, for my country. Giving up is just not an option.
And while fighting this battle, I know that I must be cautious, follow the rules however nonsensical they may be, and at the same time, be gracious and kind to everyone.
I remind myself every day to be compassionate to those who are in need. And, I repeatedly tell myself that I must be grateful for what I still have, even in these dark days.
Perhaps, many of you share similar feelings.
But I am really fed-up now!
As I try to keep my spirits up, do my best to be a good husband, a decent employer and a responsible citizen, it seems like around every corner, there are “booby-traps” that lurk. And, the irony is that I am being “ambushed” by the very people who are supposed to help me get out of this dreadful mess.
By ambush, I mean the mental anguish that comes from having no clarity about the rules that I should live by, right now; by having rotating SOPs; from listening to government ministries that issue conflicting directives; to being subjected to selective enforcement; and by the spectre of constant politicking.
And, the biggest affront to us common people, is when our politicians get away with traveling to France and New Zealand, dine-in at cafés with their pals, have durian parties with their “kakis”, attend gatherings…the list of breaking the rules is endless.
While all this garbage is going on in plain sight, a good Samaritan in Perak, who was distributing food aid to the disadvantaged, gets fined RM1500 for allegedly breaching movement control rules.
Another lady got fined RM4,000 for driving her mother to shop at a hypermarket, and my own restaurant chef was issued a RM5,000 fine, even though he had the requisite approvals to work across movement control lines.
Now, I just wonder what reason the senior politician gave to the officials at the various ministries, before taking his wife and young child to Paris. I mean he would need to get permission, right?
When they make us, common folk, ask for permission for crossing district and state borders, naturally he, too, would have had to apply for approval to cross our national borders, correct?
I would certainly be interested in finding out what the authorities say now, after seeing this politician’s wife posting Instagram photos of them enjoying crêpes at a farmer’s market in Paris, when Malaysians are raising flags to indicate they are desperate for food aid.
We have always known that politicians thrive at pitting people against each other on ideological grounds.
But now, they have managed to incite ordinary people to hurl accusations against each other of irresponsible behaviour, breaking SOPs, not staying at home, of doing charity for publicity, and the like.
Every community’s social media page is filled with keyboard warriors and “cancel-culture” specialists who have an opinion about every darn thing. And, please don’t get me started on the pseudo-doctors.
Everything is going belly up in the country.
We already know that the healthcare system is strained to the hilt.
But just yesterday, the entrepreneur development and cooperatives minister declared that micro, small and medium-sized industries are on the verge of collapse, and seven million people could lose jobs, if the lockdown were to prolong.
We have a monumental crisis at hand, and in a crisis, anyone who has ever held a leadership position knows full well that one of the most important rules is to be crystal clear when giving instructions and directives.
But alas, for Malaysians, the road ahead has never looked hazier!
Do you actually know what you can or cannot do, under the various stages of the lockdowns imposed by the authorities? And to be frank, is it even possible to be sure what the rules or SOPs are, as they keep changing their minds, making U-turns, while the various ministries make conflicting statements.
Some of you might say, this is why it is best to stay home, and do diddly-squat!
Perhaps you can afford to say that, if you are a salaried employee, or a civil servant. Your paymasters will drop your monthly income into your bank accounts like clockwork, I am sure.
But for those who are not on a fixed income, which accounts for 40% of the Malaysian working population, and for business owners, smallholders, farmers, and freelancers, this is not an option.
So, what’s the deal?
You salaried employees are just going to sit back, collect your money, and write vitriol about the rest of your fellow citizens, on how they are not following the SOPs?
What about the slogans that some are so fond of, like “kita-jaga-kita” or “we’re all in this together”? Where’s the compassion for our countrymen and women, who are not as comfortable as you are?
What about our government that has taken to brand everything they do, with the prefix – “prihatin” – which loosely translates as “concerned, attentive or caring”?
Doesn’t being a concerned, attentive and caring government start with being clear about what rules we are to follow? And then to be transparent, pragmatic, and considerate while enforcing them?
Because in these trying times, spewing slogans is worth nothing!
Right now, for things to get better, we need the government to focus on clear goals and objectives for these various lockdowns. And they need to do this, by concentrating on purpose, rather than causing panic.
Be clear why you want us to follow any of these SOPs, and for heaven’s sake, think about SOPs properly before shooting them out.
The people of Malaysia also need simplicity.
If these lockdown rules are thought-through and clear, then the simplicity frees us from having to make our own interpretations. When you muddle things up, it gets complex, and complexity frustrates everyone.
I recommend that instead of spending so much time plotting and scheming, our leaders get to work, and figure out SOPs with absolute clarity.
Then, share these rules and SOPs with us without ambiguity. Every responsible Malaysian will fall in line, and follow what you say, if you are not selective about enforcement.
You simply have to stop mucking-us about, because seriously, there are lots of us who are fed-up!
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.