Disclaimer : The images used in the accompanying text are drawn from the social media, unless otherwise stated. Some may be considered inappropriate and for that, I offer my sincere apologies. That said, we are living in trying times.

If events had gone according to script, the last day of 2020 would have marked the last day of the recovery phase of the MCO aka R-MCO, and Malaysians all over the country would have then welcomed the 1st of January 2021 with much celebration and fanfare.

It would also be fair to say and in no small measure, with relief too, for it would have meant that we would have had some degree of success in flattening the curve, so to speak. If events had followed to script that is.

As it happened, the new year marked a return of the MCO and its variants the C-MCO (Conditional MCO) and the re-introduction of the R-MCO (Recovery MCO). This time around, the MCO enforced was, to borrow a phrase from the IT world, MCO 2.0.

In many aspects, it was no different to the very MCO that was first introduced back on March 18th 2020 when the pandemic was finally taken seriously enough to warrant such action to be taken.

The exception was that this time around, they were some changes to the SOPs which allowed some, if not all, business sectors to operate. Surely, the benefit of lessons learnt from MCO 1.0.  

Images by Shah Said ; @ all rights reserved ; January 2021

Recognition, too, of the devastating effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has been to businesses in general, when the sound of the shutters coming down at the end of business day either meant the end of business for the day or that of another business venture biting the dust.

As 2020 slowly came to an end, we witnessed be they in shopping malls or on the main roads in Malaysia itself, businesses that were once thriving or on the verge of making that breakthrough every business dreamt of, now sporting a new look : the ‘For Rent’ look with real estate agents’ telephone numbers pasted on the windows and on the once spick and span but now dusty shutters.

Just how long this look would remain flavour-of the-month, is anyone’s guess. Despite it nowadays being a normal sight whenever you take a walk around town or in the malls, it is still not a sight that you can get used to after knowing what was there before.

It has been the routine that the authorities that be would deliver a daily briefing of the pandemic situation in Malaysia to the Malaysian public. Malaysians have come to expect it and in some perverse way, taken the announcements as an affirmation that the fight against the pandemic was heading towards a happy conclusion.

Until that is when the numbers that came in, were it to be the growth graph of a business venture, the business owners would be more than happy and delighted with it. But unfortunately, this is not a business venture and when the numbers persisted, there can only be one recourse.

The return of the MCO was announced by no less than the Prime Minister himself, with six states namely Selangor, Penang, Sabah, Johor, Melaka, and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan, given the dubious honour of the full MCO itself.

The other six states of Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan as well as the districts of Kuching, Sibu and Miri, being declared under the MCO-variant, the C-MCO whilst the states of Sarawak (except for the three districts mentioned earlier) and Perlis declared under the rules of the R-MCO.

INITIALLY.

A week or so into the MCO, it has now been upgraded, if you can call it that, to a full blown MCO. The only state that is exempted is Sarawak, discounting the three districts of Kuching, Sibu and Miri that is already under C-MCO.

FOR NOW.

With the MCO now in effect, is it going to be like the first time the MCO was unveiled to an unsuspecting Malaysian public back in March 2020?

Well, basically no.

The last time around, we were basically ‘pampered’ to stay home. And most of us did not resist. To paraphrase, resistance was futile, if there was ever any resistance to begin with, for not only because we were ‘advised’ to remain indoors but the ‘advice’ was made bearable with free access was given to almost all, if not all, Pay-To-View packages, unlimited free Internet access, financial aid and the likes.

So happy we were to stay at home, under orders mind you, that the creative side of many were finally able to come out to the fore. Most often than not, they were quite entertaining as well as being informative. Social media contents and clicks must have doubled, at least. Minimum.  

However, this time around, even there were to be ‘incentives’ to just stay at home or work from home, the mood is rather different. After almost a year of being under one form of restricted movement or another, people are getting to be very concerned not only about job security but also with their sense of personal well-being, be it with respect to personal health, financial health and the never-to-be-underestimated emotional as well as mental health.

To make it worse, it’s beginning to tell, what with the level of intensity expressed on the different platforms on social media. If its anything to go by, that is. But then again, was social media ever a good barometer for what’s actually happening out there?  

Well, the MCO, as it is, has just been extended til February 4th, as announced by the Senior Minister-in-charge. Lets hope that by February 4th, the situation will have improved somewhat and life as we had known it before we ever heard of the coronavirus Covid-19 be back to stay.

But then again, that would be a bit too much to ask for, would it not. Afterall, it’s not in the realm of what they say, the New Norm.

But then again, there is always still hope. For hope springs eternal, yes?

By the way, its January 23rd 2021 – Day 313 days since the MCO was first introduced those so many days ago. In case, anybody’s wondering that is. For whatever it is, be safe, stay safe, and stay sane.