By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily
PM Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension of the movement control order by two weeks to 14 April and emphasised that the MCO could be extended further if necessary.
In other words, the worst is yet to come!
Over the past one week, many continued to roam free in our cities and towns, while others, feeling extremely bored having to stay home, keeping looking at their phones and sharing many unverified pieces of information on the social media.
Right at this trying time, many seem to have forgotten that there are many doctors and nurses fighting COVID-19 at the frontline. These people are exposing themselves to the virus and putting themselves in grave danger all because they have a mission to treat and save the lives of our fellow countrymen. The virus knows no race or religion, any of us and our loved ones can get infected.
If we allow the numbers of suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases to soar, there are good chances these healthcare personnel will not get to back to their homes. What about their families and children waiting at home? Many frontliners have already been infected so far.
Through its Warm Power section, Sin Chew Daily has been regularly carrying heart-warming stories of the selfless sacrifices made by these frontline warriors. Some of them hug their family members before going to work, as they don't know when they will be back again, and there are chances they could get infected or even separated permanently from their families in the worst case scenario. Many healthcare personnel in China have fallen to the virus, and we cannot afford to let our ignorance and apathy to enhance the risk of infection of our virus-fighters here. As they say: We stay at work for you, and you stay at home for us!
In addition to healthcare personnel, the policemen and soldiers on duty at road blocks nationwide are also being exposed to the risk of infection.
When Malaysians are told to stay home, there are still some 2,000 Rohingya participants of the tabligh event at Masjid Seri Petaling roaming in our midst.
In neighbouring Indonesia, which already declared a state of emergency last week, the coronavirus outbreak could go out of control, and if this happens, Malaysia will be severely affected given the close relationship among the people of both countries. It will not be easy for the government to fully contain this outbreak.
It was reported on Sin Chew Daily last week that a policeman had to sleep in a a tent outside his house for fear he would get infected and then infect his family members. Such an uplifting piece of news ought to be shared by us on the social media, not the fake news.
Sin Chew's Seeking the Truth column started with only half a page initially, but has since increased remarkably to a full page, a page and a half and two full pages. This shows the vast numbers of fake news circulating in the social media.
Among the irresponsible people spreading lies on WhatsApp, WeChat and other social media platforms are those highly educated, company management and VIPs in our society. This shows that the Internet herd instinct has successfully re-engineered the human race such that people are becoming increasingly dumb. They only know how to receive information and completely trust what they have been fed with, and are reluctant to put in some effort to verify its authenticity.
If you keep receiving negative information and content, you will eventually become pessimistic and anti-social, and will start pouring your frustration over Facebook and other social media platforms. Such a phenomenon will make you feel anxious and adversely affect your health and life.
As fake news is as destructive as the virus, we in Sin Chew Daily urge all of you not to share fake news as we do our best to bring the news reports to you from the frontline.
According to the health ministry, many treatment centres are suffering from undersupply of medial resources. Many of the healthcare personnel are physically exhausted due to severe lack of sleep and rest. They need adequate supply of face masks, protective goggles and PPE.
Let's do something meaningful to show our appreciation for these heroic people. Sin Chew Daily has decided to jointly initiate the “Fight for Life and Save our Future” campaign in collaboration with Yayasan Sin Chew. You are all welcome to join our effort. Yayasan Sin Chew has taken the initiative to come up with RM3 million for the purchase of various medical equipment for our frontline doctors and nurses, with Hospital Sungai Buloh being the first beneficiary institution.
In addition, we have also witnessed many spirit-lifting actions from Malaysians of all ethnic backgrounds, including producing face masks and sending food items to the frontline healthcare and enforcement personnel, among others.
I feel that perhaps you all can take into consideration the following, as you stay at home during the next few weeks.
Have we gone way too far in the age of globalisation and information overload such that we do not have time to slow down and think? Perhaps we should stop and look at the unbeautiful things around us, purge our eyes of the undesirable stuff, reconstruct our thinking ability and do something right for our families, community and this nation. Don't soak ourselves in Internet and allow ourselves to be led by the nose by others, putting more emotional burden to ourselves and making us directionless.
Perhaps it is now time to buy a copy of newspaper or subscribe to the e-paper, or take out some books and periodicals we bought long ago but have not had the time to read them. Let's settle our hearts and try to recoup the patience and focus we have lost.
I said earlier that the worst is yet to come, and this relates not just to the coronavirus outbreak but an imminent global depression and the ensuing social problems.
The destruction and impact of the virus to the world far transcend human imagination. Almost all nations on this planet are locking down themselves for survival. Any country that still adopts a wait-and-see attitude may have to go down the same path as Italy, Spain, UK and US.
No country wants to see its number of confirmed or fatal cases recording new highs every day, and Malaysia does not have what it takes to defeat a looming catastrophe.
Please, we must all hearken to the government's instruction to stay at home so that this whole outbreak will become a thing of the past very soon.
Seeing that something has gone wrong, the government has started to introduce drastic measures such as allowing EPF contributors below the age of 55 to withdraw up to RM500 a month for one year from their accounts, and six-month moratorium on loan repayment for SMEs and individuals from April. However, such measures only give the rakyat to take a breather in resolving their bread-and-butter issue. Over the long term, we still hope that the war against this virus will be won very soon and the economy can be back to normal. Otherwise, the worst that we try to avoid will inevitably come to us.
The government has extended the MCO for another two weeks, meaning we will need a longer time to fight this virus. Our already lethargic economy is poised to take a dive. PM Muhyiddin has said that no one would be left behind, and he will unveil a more comprehensive and people-centric economic stimulus package this coming Friday. Right at this moment, other than breaking the chain of coronavirus infection, most importantly we must make sure the rakyat get to live, and have food to feed themselves and their families.
The economy of many countries in this world is on the brink of collapse. The very core issue of human survival has surfaced. This is a World War III sans bullets. No countries will stay immune, and the longer the war goes on, the bigger price we all have to pay.
The worst is yet to come, and the future is full of unknowns.
When factories and companies around the world are winding up their operations, and countless get retrenched or lose their jobs, social problems will ensue.
At this point of my writing, God is wailing, and the rain just refuses to stop. I pray that very soon we will see the clear blue sky again after the gloomy rains.
Stay strong, Malaysia!