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Despite the possibility of arrest, jail and fine, many people continue to defy the MCO. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only
Despite the possibility of arrest, jail and fine, many people continue to defy the MCO. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only

ARE we recalcitrant? Or stubborn? Maybe ignorant? I’d rather say we are a little of all. If I have to sum it up in one word — I’d say we are just irresponsible!

The emergence of Covid-19 with all its threats has exposed the real us. We used to laugh at Singaporeans for their kiasu trait. We should stop doing so immediately. We are no different, really.

In the last few days, we saw a jump in the number of individuals afflicted with the killer virus, with eight deaths recorded. The attack in Malaysia is on the rise. And we, the people, seem to be helping it spread, thinking that we can win this battle easily.

Hence, the continued defiance in some areas of the Movement Control Order (MCO). Groups of people are still having meals at their regular restaurants, still lazing about with friends at their usual hangouts.

Policemen on patrol duty have to persuade these people to go home and abide by the MCO. Those who defy the order can be arrested, fined or jailed. Well, all this is about to end. The policemen tasked with manning road- blocks and on beat duties are still generally polite, exercising restraint against stubborn members of the public.

Today, the police are getting reinforcement from the military. The latter may not engage you in polite conversations. They are out to do a job, and they’ll do it thoroughly and follow orders to the letter. I suggest you don’t test their patience.

The appeal for us to stay home has been made by various quarters, starting at the very top from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

For years our lifestyle has been easygoing. We just love meeting at our favourite mamak shop for teh tarik at all hours and going out to the nearby supermarket is almost a daily routine. Yes, we lead a very active lifestyle, regardless of time and day.

It’s about time we reviewed this lifestyle. Today, staying home and being with the family is a difficult chore for some people. Sad. Eating out is a daily habit for most people.

On the flip side, There are thousands of medical personnel risking their lives for us. From doctors to nurses to attendants to ambulance drivers and record keepers, these frontliners break their back to help contain this killer virus.

Many have not gone home for days. They sleep wherever they can, barely getting enough rest. And if we don’t stay home, more will be infected and then make their way to hospitals for treatment by medical personnel who are already stretched beyond their limits.

They, too, have pleaded with us to stay home and let them do their job without adding to the numbers. Datuk Dr Alwi Abd Rahman from Selayang Hospital and a board member (volunteer) of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society have been working with his colleagues to contain the scourge.

“Our doctors, nurses and support staff work round the clock. I’ve never seen such dedication and high level of sacrifices from hospital staff. It’s not just in Selayang. It’s all over the country. These are the real heroes,” Dr Alwi said.

Paramedics, too, have been on the ground, rendering other types of assistance. Trained volunteers are also helping in emergency departments and are ever ready to serve at any time.

We should learn from Wuhan, China, which gave the world Covid-19. A complete lockdown was put in place and they have succeeded to contain the spread through sheer discipline, education and a strong will to survive. Can we do likewise?

I haven’t heard Wuhan advising the population to consume warm water though.

*The writer is a former NST group editor. His first column appeared on Aug 27, 1995, as ‘Kurang Manis’


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