Disclaimer : The images used in the accompanying text are drawn from the social media. Some may be considered inappropriate and for that, I offer my sincere apologies. That said, we are living in trying times.
Its the early hours of June the 9th, 2020 coinciding with Day 84 of the Movement Control Order (MCO), the lockdown ala Malaysia. Another day in the long fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that has, til date, taken the lives of 117 fellow Malaysians and affected the lives of another 8,200 Malaysians who have since either been discharged or still under treatment in the various locations throughout the country.
Come the midnight hour on June the 10th, Malaysians would effectively find themselves experiencing a new variation of the MCO that would come into effect, only this time a variation that hints of a light at the end of a long and as of yet a seemingly endless tunnel.
Announced by the Prime Minister himself, the Recovery MCO or RMCO for short, will take effect from June 10th til August 31st, marking it as a step forward towards the opening of the economy and the relaxing of the many SOPs that were put into place for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The exception to the RMCO being they who reside in areas that have been designated red zones with SOPs prescribed for the Enhanced MCO (or EMCO) in place, where movements are even more curtailed than when the SOPs of the MCO were in force. Luckily, there are not that many of those red zones left.
On reflection, I guess Malaysians are generally very trusting and law abiding, and are quite well informed as well for when the announcement first went out that the country would go under the lockdown starting March 18th, the reaction and the taking to the SOPs enforced for the MCO came, sort of, naturally.
With all the doom and gloom coming out from elsewhere eg China, Europe as well as Iran amongst others, Malaysians have been made aware, directly or indirectly, that this is no seasonal or ordinary ‘flu’ and the full force of a pandemic was awaiting at the doorstep, unless pre-emptive measures were taken.
Of course, naturally enough, there were objections from some quarters but reports of the effects of pandemic from other countries as well as the combined presence of the Royal Malaysian Police and the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces on the streets put paid to any attempts by the doubters and the sceptics to ‘play-play’ with the SOPs.
That and a fine of RM1,000 for every offender bought to book for going against the SOPs that had been gazetted into law under the relevant legislation.
Despite the RMCO being what it is, the fact remains that the opening of the economy is of no less importance and that the RMCO is facilitating just that, but with an eye still on the issues of public health.
After all, the pandemic may want to get ‘naughty ‘ again, after succeeding in lulling us all into a ‘false sense of security’ following the ‘flattening of the curve’, as it were. But even then, despite the RMCO and all that it entails, there are still concerns with regards to the well being and health of the general public, but you can only hold back the public for so long before economic concerns override any other concerns that they might have.
In the meantime, Malaysians are preparing themselves to go back to work, whatever that may mean in the ‘New Norm’. In the course of the different variations of the MCO, many have gotten used to working from home, conducting meetings via the different platforms available, upgrading skills and knowledge via webinars, to name but a few of the activities taking place during the MCO, that to go back to working their way through the early morning traffic jams just to get to work in their offices may need some serious getting use to.
Appealing? I don’t know but if I were to be an office worker, I may struggle at just the very thought.
It is common knowledge that many have lost or will be losing their jobs during this dark episode in the history of Man and with that, their sources of income as well. This is especially true for those working in the hospitality and the travel industries eg hotels, airlines to name but a few, not to mention small business owners and the self employed. Just how many, we would not know until the dust has settled and that would not be for some time yet.
It would not be surprising if many of these industries will be making their case for government aid, for to get these business sectors up and running again to the levels of pre-Covid19 will require an array of incentives and probably legislation.
To do otherwise and leave it totally to market forces may see the number of unemployed rise that a bull run on the stock exchange would be proud of. But of course, it cannot be just the government taking the initiatives. The business owners will have to do their fair bit.
In the same vein, many who have lost their jobs are now, through necessity, busy developing new sources of income in the form of new economic activities. Hence, the incentives aforementioned may not only be for the existing economic sectors, but also for these new sectors and businesses coming to the fore.
It would be fair to say that the federal government will have to meet the innovativeness and the creativity of these group of people halfway, in order for the Malaysian economy to not only recover but to reach pre-Covid19 levels.
The RMCO will be in place til August 31st, and that coincides with the Malaysian Day of Independence. Coincidence? We will have to wait and see. But in the meantime, be safe and stay safe. Still.