THE government decision to extend the Movement Control Order (MCO) until April 14 has led to many speculations and contemplation. Some are of the opinion that it would lead to declaring curfew or a complete lockdown. I see this as the right decision to safeguard the interest of all as we need to comprehend the difference between MCO and Lockdown.
Curfew is a decree or order to forbid any kind of activities outside our homes. This means we are not anymore allowed to buy food and other necessity items. It differs from the MCO which provides an easy access for the people to shop for daily items. The government has been very careful in imposing lockdown, acquiring to look at every angle of it. Should lockdown is imposed, it will has to consider those domestically and internationally, food supply and all initial preparations.
The question is, are we well-prepared for the total lockdown? It won’t be for one or two days but 14 and could drag on to 30 days as imposed in China, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Colombia, the US, Philippines, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Jordan and Lebanon. Lockdown is the last resort to control the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
Clamping the public with curfew seems easy but the impact will be densely on the public and nation. The government realises how dangerous the pandemic is but it is still under control and our frontliners are at their best to contain it, thus avoiding the total lockdown. Some websites have began riding on the lockdown terminology by inviting netizens to provide a pro and con feedback should lockdown is imposed. We are trying to avoid it because it will bring adverse bearing to the economic, education, social and the community sectors.
- ECONOMIC SECTOR
- Small and medium-scaled industry (SMI), traders and restaurants will be on major losses. The closure of business premises and laying off workers will lead to massive unemployment.
- Housing and other infrastructure projects will be deferred, hence leading to adverse chain impact to the economic growth.
- Bursa Malaysia and the ringgit value will decline sharply. Foreign investors will withdraw their plans or cease operation.
- Prices of daily goods will soar rapidly as the market will see higher demand over production.
- Achievement in major examinations (UPSR, PT3, SPM, STPM) will take a downturn. Teachers will have tough time to complete the syllabus.
- Public and private higher learning institutions will incur losses in their administration. Graduation will have to be postponed, which leads to the unemployment.
- Important researches and intellectual findings will be badly-affected when all laboratories and research centres are closed.
3. SOCIAL, COMMUNITY and FAMILY STRUCTURES
- Income of petty traders, taxi drivers, e-hailing and all daily-income jobs will take a bashing. Financial issue is believe to lead to family feud and breakups.
- The mental health, notably those who were active in channeling news from social media will cause them to be overwhelmed, thus leading to anxiety.
- Those who work from home risk a ‘burn out’ situation as the mood is not conducive for some jobs.
- The public will be exposed to gadgets and screen time of Internet. Survey shows that excessive screen time can put someone into restless and depression.
- In current situation, our mental and physical should focus on the possibility of the unexpected. Is there a need for lockdown is up to the government wisdom to decide as it needs a thorough study as a mean to control the spread of Covid-19. Should lockdown is imposed, I would like to recommend 12 steps to keep the people well-managed:
- To postphone all tradings at Bursa Malaysia and pegging Ringgit to Dollar as we had done during the 1997/1998 economic downturn. This will minimise the adverse impact on the government.
- Banking and financial sectors to give a moratorium to public and private workers, IKS and individuals.
- BNM should instruct all insurance companies to revise their general exclusion (GE) policy, notably in regards to personal accident at home by permitting them to use their policy during lockdown period.
- Utility companies must ease the people’s burden by offering rebate, discount or minimum charges during lockdown.
- The postponement of EPF contribution (for workers), thus will provide the rakyat with extra cash to keep the market liquidity.
- Bringing down examination points or grades for the year 2020 and reviewing the level of difficulty.
- All higher learning institutions should observe their respective postponement of semester.
- The homeless in major cities must be managed properly since there are possibility of their food supply being cut off.
- Before lockdown is declared, the government must stop public transportation in stages.
- Provide free online counselling or emotion therapy to those having mental depression.
- All NGOs and related agencies must actively involved in mental health campaign.
- Regulate all supermarkets, stores and groceries to impose limited purchase on daily goods.
There are two important things we need to do in helping out the government realizes the MCO:
- Stay at home and adhere to all guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and PDRM to contain the virus. Those who are at risk and with Covid-19 symptoms are advised to seek medical screening at nearest clinic or government hospitals.
- Stop disseminating unverified news about the pandemic and refrain from seeking popularity on the social media by creating panic and chaos by posting unnecessary prophecies.
John F. Kennedy had said: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger-but recognize the opportunity”.
Love your family. Use this MCO opportunity to amend what we had lost in the past. #staycoolwithyourfamily.
AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI