Keep safe, stay safe

A small act of selfishness could be too costly for the nation to bear


THE economic effect of Covid-19 has already been felt across all layers of the society, especially after almost two months of inactivity.

Unemployment climbed to the worst figures in a decade and businesses that are allowed to open expect slower sales as Malaysians are still under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) until June. Such despair is not unique to Malaysia.

The US economy reportedly lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the Bureau of Labour Statistics said last Friday — the most sudden and largest decline since the government began tracking the data in 1939.

The reality for Malaysian workers now is, the ones who managed to retain their employment albeit pay cuts can consider themselves lucky to still have a source of income.

The unlucky ones are relying on the government’s financial assistance to survive as uncertainties loom. For business owners, survival is the one and only thing in their mind. “We are lucky if we can make any profit, but it seems unlikely,” one said.

His sentiment is not unwarranted. Around 23% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would have to downsize their businesses after the MCO, while 28% said they would restructure, according to a recent survey by the SME Association of Malaysia. Only 19% believed that they would be able to resume operations as usual.

The worst part — those who are not able to continue their business in the next three to six months will close down permanently.

A report from Bain and Co suggested that restarting a business after a pandemic is akin to starting a business from scratch.

Industry players need to think on how they can serve and adjust to customers’ needs based on the current situation. Managing expectations and re-strategising the business are vital.

Bear in mind, this is only in regards to the economy.

We have yet to get the full picture on how this pandemic has affected people psychologically. Our world has changed and there is no definite timeline on how soon we can beat the virus.

It is unfortunate that a microscopic virus has wreaked unprecedented havoc in the history of mankind.

The first six months of 2020 will be marked as a bleak spot in modern history. People need to be prepared for the worst in the next 18 months, or until a vaccine is found.

These are tough times. No matter how prepared you are, the effect will be felt in more than one way. We have little choice, but to brace for changes.

There are rules for us to abide with to ensure the virus containment measures can be implemented effectively.

With the festive season approaching in the next few weeks, let’s just be mindful of our own conduct so as not to destroy all the hard work and progress the country has achieved so far in the ”Covid-19 War”.

While it is a season to be cheerful, we should never let our guards down. A small act of selfishness could be too costly for the nation to bear.

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