As I type this article, my mind is already in a different country. I’ve seen TikToks of people in New Zealand and Belgium walking about with no masks on, having high tea in a cafe, laughing with friends and all around having the time of their lives. When is it our turn? When can we do that too?
We keep seeing news reports and articles saying that if we just adhered to SOPs and stayed at home, the numbers would go down and we could all have our old Malaysia back again. But it’s been two years and we’ve had about 10 lockdowns and MCOs so far. The cases keep going up and down and it seems like we’re just playing ping pong with the numbers by now, aren’t we?
What are we doing wrong?
Lockdown? What Lockdown?
Let’s go back to the original plot of what a lockdown is supposed to be: since the new coronavirus can spread so easily and go unnoticed, many governments implemented a “total lockdown” as the best way to ensure people have minimal contact with each other. This means that people are only allowed to leave their houses to get food or medicine, and if they absolutely need to, they would have to practice social distance when they do go out.
With this definition in mind, Malaysia has obviously not implemented a “total lockdown” at all. I would go so far as to say that we’ve been implementing partial lockdown this whole time. People are still able to roam free because there are some places that the police don’t frequent. Or they have a special “laluan tikus” to help them avoid the police.
The numbers won’t ever go down if the government still allows fellow Malaysians to roam on the streets for no good purpose. Some that go out aren’t social distancing and even not wearing masks. In the chance that they do, they don’t wear them properly, pulling the mask under their noses, which defeats the purpose of wearing a face mask in the first place!
What angers Malaysians that do follow the rules of the lockdown is that some people seem to have special treatments when it comes to these rules. They’re given the freedom to travel across states simply because they have a “special letter” that tells them they can.
By right, the only sectors that should be operating in this pandemic are health, food and agriculture.
I don’t think going out to eat durian with your friends counts as an emergency, but then again who am I to say?
Special passes are supposed to only be for when you’re out with deliveries or have urgent matters like getting vaccinated or being hospitalised, but people use that as an excuse to visit friends and family, carrying unknown diseases to them and overall, causing more harm than good.
Is It Really Working or Are We Just Pessimistic?
A total lockdown should do what it’s intended. Allow no one to go out anywhere except maybe for groceries, but also realistically, anything can be done online nowadays.
If you have to go out, just wearing masks and using sanitisers aren’t enough anymore. You have to protect yourselves with more than that. I understand that staying at home is suffocating at the moment, but what else can we do as a normal citizen?
As of the end of June, we have reported around 6,276 new cases of COVID-19. The lowest we went this year was in the 4,000s but that quickly rose. That’s why the government implemented a lockdown, to ensure that the people are safe and to stop the virus from spreading. So, is it working, after so many attempts?
The short answer is: no. No, it isn’t.
I watched the news a few days ago and it showed how the highway was littered with traffic. Inflicting fines doesn’t work because a little bit of coffee money goes a long way when it comes to crossing borders.
How can there be a total lockdown when there are people hanging out on the streets and going to their friends houses, going out dating and visiting their families whenever they want? There’s also the question of why there are different SOPs for different people?
If the rakyat can do the bare minimum to keep the numbers low, why can’t we have the same energy from the higher ups? Shouldn’t the SOPs be consistent across all levels, be it rakyat, celebrities or higher ups in the efforts to curb the infection rates?
It might also be because the vaccination rate isn’t that high at the moment. According to The National Recovery Plan, in order to fully get rid of this lockdown and lower the number of COVID-19 spread, 10% of Malaysia’s population should be vaccinated by mid July.
So far, according to Our World in Data, as of 30 June 2021, only 6.9% of the population has been fully vaccinated. We’re getting there! Slowly but surely, we’re getting through one problem at a time.
Although these days, it seems we aren’t just battling with the problem of viruses but also the mental wellbeing of our fellow Malaysians as well.
What Actually Happens During Lockdown?
Other issues have emerged from being in lockdown. People are becoming more restless being holed up at home. There’s no motivation, no excitement to look forward to.
The thing is, since lockdown isn’t working, there are other problems arising amidst it. Abuse cases and suicide cases are on the rise.
According to Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, on average, almost four suicide cases were reported to police every day in the first quarter of 2021.
People are scared to stay at home. Scared of not getting enough income and not being able to survive this pandemic and the burden it brings in the aftermath.
Now, Malaysians are taking matters into their own hands with the birth of #BenderaPutih. Malaysians are putting up white flags to send an S.O.S message to the rest of their neighbourhood that they are in need of help, that they’ve run out of food.
This movement is made by the rakyat, for the rakyat, to help those who are struggling during this pandemic and that with their help, it would hopefully lower the cases of suicides in Malaysia.
One question remains in our heads though — how long are we going to stay at home? How long do we have to subject ourselves to this torture?
I’ve been in lockdown for so long, I’m actually terrified that I’ve lost my ability to speak to other people. Even introverts have our limits!
It’s really frustrating not knowing why the numbers go up and down without explanation. And with how many that are suffering during this pandemic, it’s really scary to think that if the numbers aren’t going down anytime soon, would we be stuck like this forever?
Let’s End This Together, Shall We?
My hope is that we get over this pandemic as quickly and efficiently as possible.
We managed to defeat the spread of the virus before and I believe we can do it again. With everyone’s help, we can eventually lower down the cases enough to start living normally again.
Don’t you guys miss the feeling of being outdoors with no fear and restrictions? I sure do!
Let’s all keep the spirit of #KitaJagaKita alive. If there’s no one else to help us, the least we can do is help ourselves, right?
Stay safe everyone!