We just can’t have nice things

And going back to the original MCO is probably what we deserve, anyway


MALAYSIA seems to be thriving amid the Covid-19 crisis. Although we did have our share of calamities — infections, casualties and economic downfall — we might have been doing much better at handling the pandemic compared to many other countries, some far more developed than us.

Before going into the Movement Control Order (MCO), there were panic shopping in some areas, but nothing too untoward happened, except for the shortage of Gardenia breads.

So far, on top of having a well-stocked pantry, we’ve enjoyed food delivery services almost every day to keep ourselves full and happy.

While the lucky ones among us still have jobs and continue to work from the comfort of our homes, those facing financial challenges are enjoying aids like loan moratorium and stimulus packages.

All these to make sure that the non-essential workers do not have to go out to work and stay safely at home.

This has not only allowed the country to break the chain of the coronavirus infections, but with everyone prohibited from going anywhere, the nature has also been given a chance to repair itself.

During the MCO, without cars on the roads to pollute the air, we saw blue skies — a rare sight for city dwellers.

Many rivers are now crystal clear again. Among those that made the news include Sungai Kesang (which many mistook for Maldives), Sungai Melaka, Sungai Klang, Sungai Gombak, Sungai Way and Sungai Kemunsing, all of which reporting improvements in water quality, according to the Global Environment Centre.

Even Sungai Kim Kim in Johor, where a toxic pollution once shocked the nation, was cleaner during the MCO. Our public beaches were pristine again, as authorities were able to do some thorough cleaning without holidaymakers around.

One would think that after months of being cooped up within the four walls of our homes, we would learn to appreciate nature more and do our best to preserve it. Think again.

Late last month, when the interstate travel ban was lifted and beaches reopened under the Recovery MCO phase, bored city folks thronged Port Dickson, and when the weekend was over, it was clear that we are still with our old attitude.

Holidaymakers littered the public beach; there was rubbish everywhere.

It was such an ugly thing to see that Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun expressed his disappointment over the irresponsible tourists on his Facebook page.

“If the place does not have a rubbish bin, please hold on to it,” he wrote.

Earlier this week, netizens were outraged when a mural in Shah Alam was vandalised with obscene words.

The mural, painted just over three weeks ago, paid homage to the country’s leaders who had guided Malaysians through the pandemic.

Featured in the mural were Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

Skilfully done by artists Muhammad Suhaimi Ali, Abdul Hadi Ramli and Muhamad Firdaus Nordin, the mural won the hearts of many, who were also grateful to the leaders during these testing times.

The King and Health DG even took some time out of their busy days to visit the mural.

Unfortunately, for some unknown motives, two unidentified women defaced the masterpiece with red spray paints.

While the vandalism has been painted over with white paint, taking the mural with it, the police are on the hunt for the culprits whose deed was caught on CCTVs (closed-circuit televisions).

The artists said they were aware of the possibility of their artwork being vandalised, but what took place on Monday was beyond their expectations.

Meanwhile, there is no more the luxury of being quarantined at home for Malaysians returning from abroad, thanks to the errant few who thought it was cool to go out to public places with their pink wristbands (which indicate that they are under home quarantine).

When the numbers of daily new Covid-19 cases went down to single digits and more and more patients recovered, the government said those returning from overseas did not have to be placed at quarantine centres.

Instead, they could enjoy the comfort of their own homes while abiding to the quarantine guidelines.

They were given the pink wristbands, which only the medical officers could take off upon completion of their quarantine period.

However, some were seen abusing the government’s trust by going out to eat. One of them, a lady in Perak, was detained and it was later discovered that she tested positive for Covid-19.

Because she could not wait just 14 days to eat at a mamak, she had put other patrons at risk and affected the restaurant’s business.

That, combined with the public’s growing complacency, is a recipe for disaster.

The country cannot afford to go back to a full MCO and while the Health Ministry (MoH) is worried about the 13 new clusters that emerged in just 10 days, maybe, it is not alarming enough for Malaysians.

And going back to the original MCO is probably what we deserve, anyway.

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