As I sit and discuss with friends and colleagues, I fear for our future. I fear for our nation. I fear for our well being.
We seemed lost my countryman. Preoccupied by political sideshows. Engrossed with false pride. Enmeshed in pettiness. Not knowing what we want.
We seemed to be drown in a sea of misfortune and mishaps. Struggling and grasping for air to live. Daily we are reminded of the thousands of new covid patients. Daily we hear worrying stories of overloaded hospitals and facilities. Stories of covid positive patients waiting at wits end for their beds at hospitals and even ambulances to pick them up.
While we suffer health wise, our economy rambles listlessly uncertain of future. Though we avoid the pain of a total closure as in the first MCO, the economy is stuttering. We see less people at the malls. We see stalls sprouting like mushrooms. We see shops without customers. We see empty hotels. People losing jobs. People losing means to support their family.
And what is to become of our children? Their education is in tatters because of covid. Schools unable to be fully opened. Regular classes unable to be conducted. Exams and assessments unable to be properly undertaken. We would have a generation of our children being deprived of an effective education during this time.
And while we are overwhelmed and engrossed daily with the problems above, we forgot to ask ourselves one basic fundamental question: for how long more can we and our country endure continuing like this? Can we continue like this or worse with a more stricter MCO if the numbers are still increasing, until August or year end? I think not my countrymen. Many more would die, literally and figuratively. More businesses will have to close shop. More rakyat will have to be retrenched and be out of work. We don’t want this.
We need to be clear of what we want? Of what we want the government to do. We can’t wait until year end for our country to be vaccinated and recover.
We want our country to be back on its feet by mid year. We want to see our country to be practically fully opened by mid year. For our country to be vaccinated by mid year. For covid to be curbed long before that. In six months time we want to be able to move freely to travel interstate and overseas. To receive tourists. To do business away and from the country.
In six months time, we want to see our economy on the mend. With more business and employment opportunities. With hotels and tourists spots beginning to be visited. With malls being filled and cinemas being full. With events, conferences, weddings and even tahlils being carried out. With every mosque being able to be opened without restriction for Friday and jemaah prayers.
And in six months time, we want to see our children would be in school with regular classes and extracurriculars activities without parents being worried of infections. Our playgrounds be filled with children’s laughter. And our children no longer confined to the four walls of their homes.
We want our country be opened and back on its feet.
And in order to achieve this, we want the government to do the utmost to procure the vaccine and implement it effectively. Pay if they must to secure the vaccine. Incur what they have to ensure a quick distribution and implementation of the vaccine. Expedite the procedure of approval without compromising our health as much as they can as seen in other developed countries. Make the SOP stricter if they need to curb the covid further.
This is our utmost priority for the next six months. No other priorities should come close to this. Not politics. Not the Emergency. Not democratic idealism.
We want the government to undertake this with full resolve. And for this we will fully support the government’s action. Irrespective of our political affiliation, we want this to happen and will ensure it happens. Because the alternative is worse. The additional billions that the government spends to achieve this is nothing to the loss of tens or hundreds of billions if they fail to do this.
The nation and us must be clear on what we want. If we are not clear, the government will not be clear. If we think political issue is more important, the more the government will indulge in politics.
So my countrymen, let’s stop bickering. Let’s unite and demand together that we want our country to be back on its feet in six months time. Don’t waste time in trivialities and then expect all to be well. It’s still in our hands to make a difference.
Lukman Sheriff Alias
Chairman of MACSA