Paying the price for New Year’s Eve revelry in Malaysia

Reading about revellers not observing precautions has been infuriating for Jem

I am writing this because I am upset and so angry. Did everybody see what was happening on New Year’s Eve in and around the Bukit Bintang area in Kuala Lumpur and Chulia Street in Penang?

Learning about those revellers loitering without face masks, with no social distancing, hell-bent on spreading the coronavirus to everyone around them infuriated me.

Most of us follow the precautions because Covid-19 has scared the heck out of us. So we wear our masks, wash and sanitise our hands, observe social distancing and keep away from enclosed, cramped and crowded places. We go out only when necessary.

Yes, there are those who flout the rules and wear masks under their noses, but they are few and far between.

The dailies say the police were at some of these New Year’s Eve hotspots. What were they doing? Were they there just to issue fines for not wearing masks and for not observing social distancing?

Shouldn’t all those places have been under lockdown knowing that people would congregate there on New Year’s Eve? It is plain common sense!

Governments in some other countries had their fireworks, but nobody was allowed to gather in numbers to watch. If such gatherings could be avoided in those countries, why was it impossible for the Perikatan Nasional government to curb the revelry here?

A week later, and Malaysia has breached the 3,000-mark for the number of new cases in a day. Sometimes I feel that all the movement restrictions orders that the authorities have implemented are just a charade. Consider this: the country was thinking of opening its borders, resorts have opened, people are travelling from north to south, east to west and everywhere in between.

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By yesterday, Selangor had 9,412 active cases over the last 14 days, Johor 4,036, Kuala Lumpur 3,848, Sabah 3,791 and Penang 1,253.

The total number of infections by today: 128,465, of whom 521 have died.

Despite these horrific numbers, the tourism industry is allowed to operate under “strict SOP” (standard operating procedures) even as the recovery movement control order has been extended to 31 March 2021.

Can someone in authority tell us what these “strict SOPs” are? Why have these “strict SOPS”, if any, not been used throughout the country and not just for the tourism industry, which was only recently allowed to resume operations?

Had they been implemented, these “strict SOPs” could have reduced the number of cases. Are there really some new “strict SOPs” that the public are unaware of, or are these just words to justify the reopening of the tourism industry?

The government has indicated that the surge in numbers has been due to more migrant workers including those undocumented being tested positive.

There could be some truth in that, but those who have brought these undocumented workers into the country, those who employ them and all those who are making a bucketload of money off these workers should be made to pay hefty fines or risk being disbarred from their construction association or something. They have failed to uphold their responsibility towards these workers and have put the public in jeopardy.

But we also need to be honest with ourselves and accept that Malaysians are just as culpable of spreading the coronavirus. What about all the weddings, gatherings and night clubs that Malaysians have been going to in 2020? So do not be so quick to judge the migrants for the surge in cases. Many Malaysians too played a part in spreading the coronavirus.

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One news report said health experts “have voiced concern over the violations of Covid-19 SOPs over the holiday period”.

Really? Voiced their concern? How laughable is this! Shouldn’t they have made their concerns known to the relevant authorities, knowing that people would flock to these areas on New Year’s Eve? Without a doubt there would be a surge in new cases – and so it has come to pass.

A doctor in that report also spoke about the threat from the more infectious mutations found in Africa and the UK. Have they appeared in Malaysia already?

So it boils down again to the PN government and the ministries of health and security to come up with more preventive measures. Are any being taken?

Another press article spoke of the country emulating Singapore in raising the age of smoking.

Emulating Singapore to see how it has stemmed the surge of the coronavirus would be far more important to the health and wellbeing of the people of Malaysia than smoking right now, wouldn’t you agree?

Bah! Humbug! as Scrooge would say.

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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