Communication is key…

Confusion on the CMCO can be avoided should the exit strategy be communicated better to the people


IN GENERAL, Malaysians are known as peace-loving and law-abiding citizens. We are so abiding that at times, even when our rights are taken, we still say “tak apa” — for the greater good.

So, when the government imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) last March, a majority of us accepted and complied with the rules because we know it was necessary for the greater good.

The same cannot be said of other countries such as the US. The citizens protested against the lockdown, they claimed any lockdown was against the spirit of the constitution. They have the right to go out as much as to own a gun. This is the country that now sits on the apex of Covid-19 cases in the world.

Malaysians’ compliance to the MCO was even praised by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in his daily briefing yesterday.

Through the willpower of the citizens, Malaysia managed to avoid the tragedy and loss of human lives like in the US and Italy despite earlier confusions over the MCO.

Interestingly, when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the implementation of Conditional MCO (CMCO), which sees the return of some liberties to social and economic activities, the news was met with various reactions.

Not many were looking forward to embracing the new normal. In fact, critics claimed that this was not the “soft landing” approach as previously stated by the Health Ministry (MoH).

Sudden resumption of activities — especially when the cases have yet to reach a single-digit daily — raised alarms among many, including state governments.

As it is, the federal and several state governments are locked in the CMCO impasse. Both are stuck in a rock and hard place. The economy needs to reopen as many more livelihoods stand to be affected if the MCO prolongs.

The economic losses, if not mitigated, could last for more than two years. The decision to resume businesses, according to the federal government, is under the MoH’s and World Health Organisation’s recommendations.

They may have a solid reason and data to back it up as millions of lives are at stake. Still, such confusion on the CMCO can be avoided should the exit strategy be communicated better to the people.

This whole episode, unfortunately, revealed the lack of coordination and communication between the state and federal governments.

What seems to be the Achilles heels for the government so far, is a lack of clear direction on its plan and strategies.

People are still reeling or trying to make sense of the changes on hire purchase loan moratorium and in less than 24 hours last week, they had to digest what the CMCO means and how it will affect their lives.

Worse, everyone seems to have their own interpretation on what can and cannot be done despite having the National Service Council’s standard operation procedure as the reference.

Of course, despite all this, we are grateful that a sense of normalcy and liberty are returned to the people.

At the end of the day, after almost seven weeks staying home, we should all be able to look at ourselves and be proud that we have managed to flatten the curve and avoided over-burdening our healthcare frontliners.

It is up to us now to play our part as responsible citizens to curb and eliminate Covid-19 in our society.

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.