Stay inside — we can do this

The least Malaysians can do is to obey the Order and stay home. After all, it is only for 2 weeks. It is not a huge task


SO, HOW was your first day of the stay home order? Was it as scary as you had imagined? Did it feel like the apocalypse? Or were you out and about to take pictures of empty roads for Instagram?

It is officially known as the Movement Control Order (MCO), which is a lighter approach that allows essential businesses to operate and for people to go out to get necessities. However, the word “lockdown” tends to resonate better with the public.

With the Covid-19 pandemic not showing signs of tapering off, many institutions and individuals were urging the government to implement a lockdown as many Malaysians continued their daily routines like their holiday plans, going overseas and having mass gatherings.

On the other hand, many believed that the country should not go into a complete lockdown due to economic reasons. On Monday, news of Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s special announcement
stirred anxieties.

Speculation was rife of a major decision, including a total lockdown. Malaysians then rushed on a panic buying spree. People were in a frenzy, filling up carts and picking up everything they could get their hands on. This was during office hours. Instant noodles, fresh produce, rice, canned food, breads, biscuits and toilet paper flew off the shelves.

While many shoppers remained calm and understanding towards others, there were some who were uncivilised, cutting lines, creating a ruckus and packing their trolleys like there is no tomorrow.

Rotten fresh produce and spoil frozen food were left scattered. A supermarket staff said customers abandoned their trolleys either because they could not afford to wait in the long queue before checking out or had waited in line, but the store already had to close.

There was a time not long ago when we laughed at those who hoarded groceries. Malaysia witnessed the same behaviour on Monday. But the general public was not entirely to be blamed. Anxieties hit new highs.

Worries of a lockdown, its implication and a possible curfew had dominated the public’s psyche.

Will there be enough food? Why is the PM taking so long to make the announcement? How grave is the situation? What about those who depend on daily wages?

When the announcement finally came at 10pm, there were still many questions. The government provided an FAQ the next day. But many issues were left unanswered.

With the closure of universities, students were told to go home. Then they were told to stay put. They basically had nowhere to go. In a busy bus terminal, they were at risk. Highways were packed. It feels like “balik kampung” just a few days before Aidilfitri.

On Tuesday, the IGP stated that those travelling interstate must first obtain a permit. This, of course, created long queues at police stations.

The instruction was rescinded at around 11pm due to overwhelming requests, creating dissatisfaction among those who had wasted many hours waiting in line. About two hours later, the IGP stayed the travel ban except for special cases.

Yesterday, the streets were almost deserted, but many people were still seen having teh tarik at their neighbourhood restaurant or going for their morning runs at the parks like it was another Sunday. Local
authorities made rounds and blared instructions on megaphones for people to go home.

Why the brouhaha of the MCO when we are going to disobey the Order? People need to stay in and help to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

All is not lost. We can still socialise, email your superior the work and enjoy a self-made cup of coffee in the living room, while reminding each other that we are not totally isolated.

Doctors and nurses are putting their lives on the line. They are the real heroes. The least we could do is to obey the Order and stay home. After all, it is only for two weeks.

It is not a huge task.

  • Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.