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.

Today is June 5th, 2021 and yes, Malaysia is back under lockdown. Has been the case since June 1st, with the SOPs this time around almost the same as that when we first went into lockdown back on March 18th, 2020.

Lockdown this time around was officially announced via a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) dated May 28th, 2021, thus giving Malaysians who may have missed the official announcement made over the airwaves (was there one?), enough lead time to get their ‘panic buying’ done.

Judging from official media, thank God, there was none of that this time around, the panic buying that is, but then again who’s judging. However, the same cannot be said on the alternative media. Or were the circulation of such images of panic buying timed to remind people of how ugly they were and is definitely something not to be repeated. Ever. Hopefully.

The last time around, one of the many casualties of the frenzy that was panic buying, was a well known brand of bread in this neck of the woods. This time around, before the mayhem began, the same bread manufacturer released an announcement of an increase in prices on selected items.

Images of Lockdown 2020. Remember this famous image making the rounds then?

After the announcement. there were some amongst us who announced proudly that they were able to get their hands on a loaf or two, which got some people thinking that maybe, just maybe, the announcement by that particular manufacturer did the trick in assuring their loyal and adoring followers (and there are many! me included) that stocks were, are and going to be sufficient and adequate for as long as there is an edition of MCO.

Assured? Maybe. Convinced? We will have to wait and see.

Or that maybe, just maybe, in all that panic-buying state of mind, the phrase ‘on selected items’ got lost somewhere in the process. That was what was said apparently, as I myself did not come across that announcement. But then, I maybe a fan of that particular brand of bread but not as ardent as some others amongst us.

Maybe, at this stage of my life, I am beginning to see the wisdom of that icon of the 60s and 70s, Alfred E Neumann and his ‘what me worry’ mantra, bread or no bread.

Or maybe its because I lie safe in the knowledge that my beloved wife knows how to make a loaf or two. Soft and tasty as well, complemented with that special ingredient, not unlike Formula X, called TLC. Tender loving care, that what it stands for, for those not familiar with the term.

But I digress.

Typically, Malaysians being Malaysians, we were not surprised that MCO 3.0 had all the priviledges associated with it withdrawn and replaced with that all-so-powerful phrase ‘total lockdown’.

Cynical comments, a wink or two and knowing smiles aside, the art of softening the public of impending ‘bad news’ is an artform in Malaysia. We knew what was coming before it came, so to speak.

Its a three step process, it is. Step 1 begins with pronouncements and opinions from those who matter, followed by Step 2 with countless debates on the pros and cons of such a move debated out in public by those who matter, those who want to matter and those who do not matter, with Step 3 concluding the process with an official announcement by the one who matters.

Data sourced from daily reports as announced by the Director-General of Health, via http://www.kpkesihatan.com.

It must be said that prior to that so important announcement, Malaysians have been closely following the daily press conferences from the Director General of Health as well as the Senior Minister for Security. The message was loud and clear, enough to make most Malaysians, if not all, uneasy : we are still not out of the woods, but what’s more important, we seem to be getting on further into the woods, so much so, the flora and fauna community is concerned with the potential issue of overcrowding.

Point is, yep, we can read the figures and interpret what it means, so to speak.

Although a lifeline in the form of a vaccination program has already made its debut, the numbers released daily made some to wonder whether they would get vaccinated in time before the Covid virus come-a-calling. I mean, it’s not like the virus would call ahead and say, ‘hey, you free today? Any plans?’ It just drops in and say hi whenever it wants, with or without you saying ‘its ok, no plans. Drop on in. Around sevenish should be ok’.

Looking around, maybe its just me, but my Spiderman’s senses are tingling, telling me that a sense of desperation and panic is developing, especially when the number of fatalities has gone from the lowest of the single digits to the highest of the double figures.

We have now gone to three-digits ever so recently and it does not seem likely that a return to the days of single digit fatalities is on the cards. Not just yet, anyway. Especially so when the rate of vaccination is deemed to be too slow for their liking.

Amongst the news spooking Malaysians were the disclosure that the Malaysian healthcare system is beginning to creak under the weight of the number of new cases coming in, the number of cases admitted to the ICU, the number of cases having to be intubated, and of those who eventually succumbed to the virus.

Loud is the creak that doctors now have to decide who gets to be admitted to the ICU and those who do not. Sincerely, I believe, playing God was not what the doctors signed up for. But then again, ……….

As if Malaysians could not be spooked any further, images of containers newly converted into storage facilities for the recently departed and the setting up of mobile ICU facilities by Malaysian Armed Forces were making the rounds to reinforce the statement with regards to the state of the pandemic in the country.

If there were to be any ‘wannabe heroes’ planning to score a political point or two (and there are a few), thanks to the media, both official and social, the arguments for MCO 3.0 (or has it been upped a notch to MCO 4.0?) were sold.

Being humans, all the developments would naturally have an effect on the morale of the frontliners attending to these cases. It hurts the attending doctors and nurses even more, I guess, when one of the reasons contributing to the increase of cases nationwide lies at the doorstep of their fellow Malaysians whose non compliance to the SOPs enforced were done on purpose.

What is it about the flouters of the enforced SOPs to think that they are not going to be afflicted with the virus in any shape or form is beyond the understanding of most of us.

But then again, we also have to accept the fact that most of us are well and truly lockdown-fatigued, if ever there was such a word. The restrictions on travel, even within our own respective localities, as well as the curtailing of our economic pursuits, never mind social, as well as the other restrictions that we have to put up with and endure adds up to the frustrating condition.

But what’s infuriating most of us are the inconsistencies on the application and the enforcement of the controls on movement. I guess for most of us, it’s bearable if the application is fair and consistent, with no distinctions made between the different social and economic groups that would naturally exist in a society.

A quizzical look will also have to be casted in the direction of cases classified as transmitted locally involving foreign nationals. Granted that Malaysia has its share of an expat community comprising of students, professionals, menial labour and factory workers, the question is are the foreign workers contributing heavily to this piece of important data? If so, what gives?

The revelation that we have also what is, interestingly enough, classified as ‘Imported Cases’ begs the question : is international travel allowed? Not that Malaysians are aware of, as we were under the impression that the borders are closed and international travel are at a standstill. Again, what gives?

But then, as my beloved wife always reminds me, the world is not perfect and the last time she checked, pigs still can’t fly. I did too ; looked up to the skies, cast my eyes to the furthest horizon looking for any semblance or hints of flying pigs and came to the same conclusion. Pigs still can’t fly.

The Flying Pig (Michael Creese)

Well, til the day pigs can fly and when as we Malaysians also like to say, when cars can fly too, lets hope and pray for the best. After all, the ride will not be getting any smoother soon. For the time being at least.

Stay safe everyone.