IT has been messy. In the midst of a marathon fight to defeat Covid-19 and get on with our lives, the lack of proper communication in directives is simply adding smoke to an already hazy situation.
With many struggling to keep their jobs or businesses afloat and Covid-19 cases yet to taper off, the last thing we need is confusion.
Unfortunately, that’s what we seem to be getting from some of our leaders and officials.
The recent back-and-forth over the simple task of checking in at petrol stations or risk getting fined had many eyes rolling, but sadder still was the air of resignation that wafted through most of the conversations I came across.
In much of the confusion lies the undercurrent of a tug-of-war between safeguarding the economy and protecting our health.
Here in Sabah, the conditional movement control order (CMCO) slated to end on Nov 9 was extended to Dec 6.
But as of Nov 11, the state government loosened restrictions to allow dine-in at restaurants and selected recreational activities in public parks.
This may be seen by some as a hasty move, but one must remember that Sabah was placed under CMCO on Oct 13, just as a sense of normalcy was resuming after we successfully rode a second wave. Crashing back into stagnation hit everyone hard.
Those who feel that health should be prioritised feel so only because they can afford to, and they have every right to feel that way. At the same time, many Sabahans are struggling.
Those with the privilege of being tech-savvy have taken businesses online, but for others losing their jobs or taking pay cuts are the bitter pill they have to swallow. Any industry reopening is a ray of hope.
With Malaysia’s unemployment rate at 4.7% as of August, there is no doubt the impact of this pandemic is being felt everywhere, not just in Sabah.
For families digging from savings to pay next month’s rent, the anxiety is real.
For those with mounting debt, the impact of prolonged worry on mental health can be long-lasting. Meanwhile, our frontliners are being stretched both physically and mentally.
From healthcare workers to the police, firefighters and army, these individuals are giving their all to contain the virus and prevent further spread. Without a doubt, they too are wearing down.
So, the battle against Covid-19 rages on, but we’re frustrated, fatigued and reaching the end of our rope. On the one hand, we know that stopping the spread is key. On the other, we have to put food on the table.
It is hard to imagine that it has been eight months of this altered reality, with no end yet in sight.
In order to pick ourselves up, look ahead and trudge on, we need to know the plan.
We need to be clearly informed of our nation’s priorities at any given time, and how we as citizens can contribute meaningfully. It’s not enough to give us a macro-level goal, we need details.
As Malaysians, we need to know where our country is headed if we dig our heels in and continue to flout standard operating procedures.
Threats of RM1,000 fines will not be effective if we don’t understand the severity of our actions.
Most importantly, we need to know how our leadership is striking the balance between health and the economy in the long term, and why this plan is for our ultimate good.
Clarity has never been more critical if we’re hoping for clearer skies ahead.