The Prime Minister’s Three Main Challenges

The newly-appointed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is faced with three main challenges, which includes fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Kluang Umno Division Chief Datuk Hj Md Jais Hj Sarday, who is also the state party’s treasurer, in a statement today said Ismail Sabri made history as the first non-party president to hold the post of Prime Minister, thus opening a new chapter in Malaysian politics. It also meant a return to power for Umno, which was ousted in GE14.

 

Md Jais congratulated Ismail Sabri as the country’s 9th Prime Minister and  stated the 3 challenges.

 

Datuk Hj Md Jais Hj Sarday

 

The first challenge is for the Prime Minister to remove netizens’ connotation of BN, PN and GPS being a “failed government”, and he should refrain from using the name “Perikatan Nasional (PN) government”, as PN is a coalition of the government.

 

The second challenge is for the government to win the Covid-19 war which currently has a daily infection rate of over 20,000. The rakyat’s concern is not solely the pandemic but how to survive with unemployment, managing household expenses, paying debts, among others.

 

“The economic sector has to reopen following stringent SOPs so that the people can go back to work and earn a living. The government should organise awareness campaigns on Covid-19 and carry out enforcement that is not excessive so that the people can adapt to the new normal.

 

“The education sector has endured 2 years of study from home. Based on feedback from teachers, it is said that more than 50 per cent of students have dropped out of the education system. This is due to the unavailability of WiFi and mobile data, especially in the rural areas, B40 families or students who lack discipline and those who have to work to help with household expenses.”

 

The third challenge is to maintain the stability of the coalition government. He must not repeat the mistake of the previous administration, especially those related to appointments and the formalations of new policies. Ismail should form a joint special committee comprising of representatives of the 3 coalition parties (BN, PN and GPS) to steer the ship until the next general election. This will also restore the MPs’ integrity toward their respective parties in accordance with the agreement of the coalition parties to form the government.

 

What the people want is for the government to be truly transparent in resolving the 3 major crisis — national politics, economy and welfare (including people’s health). Of course the cabinet that will be appointed is not just to fulfill the party quota but must have integrity and their own credibility.

 

Target Red Zones For Lockdown

Only red zones should be locked down while businesses in green zones should be allowed to operate in order to revive the economy.

 

Target red zones for lockdown
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

 

By Michael Tay, who is the Johor Covid-19 Pandemic Taskforce chairman, and also Johor MCA Government Coordinating Chairman.

 

It is not logical nor does it make economic sense to lock down the safe zones or compare Johor with other states that have a high Covid-19 infection rate.

 

I would urge the Federal Government and also the Johor Menteri Besar to allow eateries, hair salons and shopping malls which are not in the red zones to reopen.

 

It’s not about getting vaccinated anymore.  People’s savings are depleting due to the pandemic.  Some have already started using their retirement funds.

 

We should follow Sabah’s model.  The Federal Government should not impose excessive restrictions on any state which do not have a high infectivity rate.

 

I once again urge the Federal Government to let the Menteri Besar and his committee of health professionals from the state to draw up their own SOPs in battling the pandemic.

 

The Menteri Besar should know the red zones, the safe zones, and the landscape and demography of his state better than anyone else.  If the Menteri Besar of a state is not a health expert, then the health personnels from the top hospitals should be tasked to advise him.

 

The public would thank the Federal Government if businesses can re-open, as many entrepreneurs and industries are hanging by a thread over the continued lockdown.

 

Food court and restaurants that offer only takeaways are not earning enough to sustain their business.

 

The Federal Government should adopt a decentralized approach.  Let each state have its own SOP.

 

I sympathise with the healthcare workers but I also hear the pleas of small business owners and those who have lost their jobs, who have depleted all their savings and are turning into paupers, some are resorting to a life of crime while some are contemplating suicides.

 

It has been reported that textile and apparel factories have ceased operations since last year, leaving about 6,000 employees retrenched.   The chain reaction of that was numerous small-medium enterprises have also shut down or downsized causing about 15,000 to lose their jobs.

 

The problem with Selangor having such huge spike in the number of Covid-19 cases is because of the foreign workers in factories.  Many of these workers are believed to be illegal, so they try to avoid getting caught.  Majikan perlu ambil tanggungjawab saring pekerja asing

 

Factory owners should conduct tests at their own premises and isolate the workers who tested positive.  This would prevent the infected ones from spreading the virus to others.

 

Targeted lockdowns should be practiced, and those who have received two doses of the vaccine should be allowed more freedom, if they are well.  So, please don’t miss your appointment if you have been called up.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Your Say are those of the contributor, not the blog owner.

 

Thanks MITEC Vaccination Team

I would like to thank Life of Annie for mentioning me in her latest post Thanks UCSI Vaccination Team.  She even featured my Instagram post.  As my vaccination was done at another center, I would like to thank the team at MITEC.

 

 

Obtained My Covid-19 Vaccination Digital Certificate 

 

I had a very pleasant experience with the MITEC vaccination team.  MITEC stands for Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre and I received both of my sinovac doses there.

 

There was a heavy downpour yesterday as I was on the way for my second dose. I was quite worried whether the 2nd vaccination was going to be as smooth-sailing as the first.

 

My 1st dose on June 19 turned out pretty well.

 

In fact, I would say the 2nd appointment was even better, as the team was more gracious and friendlier than the one I met during my 1st appointment.

 

Making A Living

 

On my way to the vaccination centre, I had a wonderful chat with the Grab driver — a young man who was in the sales line before he lost his job.  Now he drives Grab for a living.

 

“We all just want to make a living.  We don’t even dare to dream of prosperity anymore,” he said, adding that even those who currently have jobs are feeling insecure.

 

“A company that used to have a sales team of 10, for example, will bring the number down to 5.  These 5 will still get the same basic salary but the sales target set by the company will be two-fold or three-fold, making it almost impossible to hit.  So it’s a “take it or leave it” situation, and most will accept it if they have a family to feed.

 

“If you say the target is impossible to achieve, the company will say you’re now given the accounts of those colleagues who have left, how can it be impossible?”

 

The Grab driver fears that the wealth gap would only widen in the near future as the rich will have the opportunity to buy over a struggling enterprise.

 

Save The SMEs

 

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang Hua Keong also said in a Nanyang Siang Pau (July 10) report that SMEs will choose to sell or close their business if they can’t see a future beyond the pandemic.

 

He said the closures of SMEs will cause a chain reaction as large companies will lose the supply chain and this could lead to layoffs, bankruptcies and a wave of unemployment.

 

Kang said the initiatives introduced under the National Economic Plan for MCO 1.0 and 2.0. cannot be copied and regurgitated for MCO 3.0.

 

Life Is About The Giving

 

That’s all for today.  A prayer for everyone in the world battling with Covid-19 right now.  May you recover soon.

 

Those who are in a position to help should lend a helping hand to those in need, and many Malaysians are responding to the White Flag movement.

 

Giving is its own reward, and life is about the giving not the getting.

 

White Flag Movement
People queueing for food items contributed by a restaurant here.

Time To Wave A White Flag?

Is it time to wave a white flag (bendera putih)?  Our existing SOP is obviously ineffective and perhaps a change of strategy is needed. This uphill battle must be exhausting!

 

Wave The White Flag Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

 

By Michael Tay, who is the Johor Covid-19 Pandemic Taskforce chairman, and also Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs Chairman.

 

The total number of Covid-19 cases stood at 751,979 nationwide on June 30, with 6,276 new cases and 62 deaths.

 

Should we be reviewing our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and maybe consider a change of strategy to fight the coronavirus?

 

The first Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced to break the chain of Covid-19 on March 18, 2020 and since then, there has been the Conditional Movement Control Order, Recovery Movement Control Order, MCO 2.0, MCO 3.0

 

And Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly said that the MCO will only be lifted when daily new Covid-19 cases are less than 4,000.

 

Since the number is not going down and doesn’t look like it’s going down anytime soon — and the Prime Minister is having diarrhoea! — why not delegate the task of reducing the number of Covid-19 cases to the Menteri Besar (MB) or Chief Minister of each state?

 

We can follow the US model where a country with 50 states, each has its own SOP.

 

If the MBs are empowered to come up with their own SOPs instead of following a standardised SOP, would this bring down the infection rate?

 

The MB should know the red zones, the landscape and demography of his state better than anyone else.

 

It’s going to be a monumental task, so the MB and his own committee comprising personnels from the top hospitals in the state, will still need the assistance of the Federal Government.

 

But if given more power,  the MB may be able to do a better job. He could draw up another SOP to complement the standardised SOP.  A case in point is, the re-opening of the MPH bookstores at Vivacity Megamall and The Spring in Sarawak on June 29 based on a statement from the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, while  outlets in other states remain closed.

 

I believe if Johor can reduce the number of Covid-19 cases, it would be able to regain the confidence of its neighbours and attract the Singaporeans to shop and invest in the state again.

 

This is a win-win situation as it will also ease the burden of the Prime Minister, Senior Minister (security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who are the ones calling all the shots right now with one SOP implemented nationwide.

 

It should not be a centralised system, like what we are practising now.  Delegation is a management skill that will lead to specialisation. This is not a call for Tan Sri Muhyiddin and his team to surrender.  They just need to review and revamp the existing SOP and come up with a more effective SOP.  It is also about time the MBs shoulder more responsibility and show their leadership in reviving the state economy and curbing the infection rate as the vaccination programme is carried out.

 

I take this opportunity to thank the Prime Minister  for announcing the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (PEMULIH), which is going to alleviate the financial burden faced by those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

 

The RM300,000 which will be distributed to all Members of Parliament, regardless of which camp they are in, is a good move but it should be done quickly and properly to ensure the money is channeled to those who are in financial distress.

 

On another matter, many people are happy with the 6-month bank loan moratorium, but we also mustn’t overstrain the banks by having one moratorium after another.  I know some banks have already closed a number of their branches.  You’re unlikely to see banks waving a bendera putih or white flag as they’re consolidating.  They’ll just collapse.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Your Say are those of the contributor, not the blog owner.

 

Related links

 

Take Covid-19 Seriously

Deliver On Your Promises, Please!

Vaccinated for Covid-19
Michael Tay got his first jab on May 23rd.
Covid-19 Vaccination
Mild side-effects after the jab.

 

By Michael Tay, who is the Johor Covid-19 Pandemic Taskforce chairman.

 

I would like to inform the public that I have received my first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine on 23rd May and the side effects were pretty mild.  I’m looking forward to getting my second shot on the 13th of June.

 

I’m saying this to reassure some people who have come up to me and expressed reluctance to sign up for vaccination out of fear that there’ll be adverse effects after the vaccination.

 

I assure you there is nothing to worry about. Everyone will react differently to the vaccine but for a person who has been vaccinated, the chances of dying from Covid-19 is significantly reduced.

 

So, I urge everyone to sign up at MySejahtera if they have not done so yet.  There are some who have registered since January but have not received any notifications yet.  I would like the relevant authorities to expedite the vaccination for those who have already registered.

 

For those who do not know how to register, please reach out for help as there are numerous support channels.  Please get yourselves registered to have better protection against the virus.

 

I experienced only mild side effects after the first dose in May, but reading these articles is really making my head spin.  No, there’s nothing wrong with the news reports but the figures are mind-boggling.

 

In this article, it was stated Johor will receive up to 100,000 more Covid-19 jabs so that the Johor-Singapore borders can be re-open in June.

 

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/johor-to-receive-up-to-100000-more-covid-19-vaccines-for-malaysian-workers-aims-to

 

In another report, as of May 17, the number of people who have been vaccinated in the state was not even 10 per cent.  Only 104,263 or 8.49 per cent have received their first dose while 70,488 or 5.74% have received two doses.  The number of people who have registered was reportedly 1.22 million.

 

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/05/20/ex-johor-exco-members-say-govt-should-be-flexible-and-step-up-vaccinations

 

In another report, several community leaders noted that 1.5 million of Johor’s 3.6 million residents have registered for the vaccines but there were only 26 Covid-19 centres throughout Johor.  This translates to about 50,000 people or 100,000 doses of vaccine per vaccination centre.

 

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/06/02/johor-pakatan-reps-urge-putrajaya-to-study-lack-of-vaccine-centres-for-stat/1979022

 

Then there was a very optimistic article where Pharmaniaga Berhad said it has the capacity to churn out 12 million doses to the Federal Government.

 

https://codeblue.galencentre.org/2021/06/01/pharmaniaga-supplying-covid-19-vaccines-to-states-glcs-now-adham/

 

And most recently, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the state is trying to get half a million doses of vaccines from Singapore and China to boost the State’s Immunisation Programme?

 

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/06/03/johor-hoping-to-get-half-a-million-more-doses-from-singapore-or-china

 

All is good.  Everyone’s making the effort to battle the coronavirus.

 

For Johor to achieve herd immunity through vaccination, about 80% of the population will need to be innoculated.

 

With the Movement Control Order enforced, the number of cases is still very high.  I can’t imagine what the numbers will be if there were no MCO.

 

But what still baffles me is the numbers.  I would like the coordinating minister for the National Immunisation Programme, Khairy Jamaluddin to provide us more concrete answers and not just utter promises.

 

Are we able to achieve the target if those who have registered in January are still waiting for their turn?  And what about those who have yet to register?

 

Even after the Singapore-Johor borders are re-opened,  I doubt the situation will return to normal anytime soon as the spending power of the people and mindsets have changed due to the pandemic.

 

With 2.8 million of the population in Johor still waiting for their vaccination in order to achieve herd immunity in the shortest possible time so that the economy can thrive again, we’re really counting on the Federal Government, our neighbour and also China for some assistance.

 

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Your Say are those of the contributor, not the blog owner.

 

Related link

 

Herd Immunity Through Vaccination Is The Answer To Economic Recovery

 

Asian American Community: We Stand By You

 

Being a Malaysian Chinese living in an Asian country, my heart weeps for the Asian American community that is facing a rising tide of hate crimes in the United States of America.

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

 

By Michael Tay, Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman.

 

Asians worldwide mourn the deaths of the 556,036 people who have died from the coronavirus in the US, a nation hardest hit by Covid-19. We do not see them as Blacks, Whites or Yellows nor were they mere statistics.  They’re someone’s child, someone’s spouse, brother, sister or parent.

 

I can understand the pain and grief felt by those who have lost their loved ones, and my heart bleeds for them but the bashing of Asians currently taking place in the US is  beyond my comprehension.

 

News reports revealed some 41 million citizens have been fully vaccinated while 75 million have been given one dose of the vaccine (as of time of writing).  Soon, the US population will achieve herd immunity through vaccination, and normalcy is expected to return. The economy will boom again, and people will find employment.

 

So, I don’t understand the flare-up of the anti-Asian stigma which has resulted in violence and deaths of innocent victims. This is striking fear and terror in everyone’s hearts, even someone who is living some 15,000km from the US.

 

Imagine the emotional turmoil of Asians who are currently in the US.

 

When an African-American man, Mr George Floyd died on May 25, Asians were sympathetic and had come together to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd’s death sparked reactions across Asia. Even though one of policemen who were at the scene of the killing was Asian American, this should not be a reason to attack the Asian American community.

 

America used to be a beacon of democracy, a beacon of light for the rest of the world.

 

I had studied and worked in the US, spent about 8 years of my life in ? near New York.  I have immense respect for Caucasians, Blacks, the Latinos, and most of the Americans I’ve met there.  They made me feel at home.

 

You can read my previous blog posts about my thoughts about the US and I care about the country and its citizens.

 

Anti-Racism Watchdog

 

Take Covid-19 Seriously

 

World Economies

 

The US today, is not the US that I used to know.  All the bigotry and hate crimes against Asians has got to stop.  If Asians in the US are facing discrimination and living in insecurity and fear of getting beaten up or even losing their lives from day to day, then I hope they will consider coming to Malaysia.  Invest in Malaysia, build a new life in Malaysia.

 

In Asian countries, such as Malaysia, we do not bash up people because of their race. No matter what is your race, you can walk on our street and feel safe.

 

Asian students who are currently studying in the US should consider coming to Malaysia and continuing their studies here, as there are international universities in Malaysia. Those who feel threatened should turn to their respective embassies for assistance.

 

All this hatred and blame is not going to bring back the 556,036 people who have died.  Please stop the hate. Respect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris who are strongly condemning the attacks on Asian Americans, and exercise some self-restraint.  I’m happy to read this news

 

Biden Pushes House-Passed Gun Reforms In The Wake Of Colorado Mass Shooting

 

Asians are not to be blamed for the pandemic.  Once the US has achieved herd immunity from vaccination, things will go back to normal.

 

Meanwhile, the US government should set up the mechanism and infrastructure to protect the Asian American community there.

 

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Your Say are those of the contributor, not the blog owner.

 

 

Herd Immunity Through Vaccination Is The Answer To Economic Recovery

“Mass innoculation will enable life to return to normalcy where we can come out and mingle with one another without any fear of getting infected with the coronavirus.”

By Michael Tay, Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman.

Michael Tay is also the chairman of the Board of Visitors for Hospital Sultanah Aminah in Johor Bahru.

I’ve seen far too many “To Let/For Sale” signs on gates and roller shutter doors of shops and houses in Johor, Malaysia, lately.

People are selling their houses due to cash flow difficulties and many have depleted their savings since the pandemic. Some have not eaten for 2  to 3 days, and the number of homeless people in Johor is increasing.

All this negativity is indeed depressing, which is why I would like to urge the government to roll out the coronavirus vaccination programme and get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.

Herd immunity is the answer to reviving Johor as well as Malaysia’s ailing economy which has been badly hit by the Movement Control Order 2.0   To achieve herd immunity, about 23 million or 70% of the Malaysian population needs be vaccinated.

It has been reported that retail businesses nationwide has dipped about 90% during the first week of  MCO 2.0 as the apparel segment had to cease operation.

Consumer confidence has been affected by the pandemic and job uncertainty, prompting many to stay at home and be more prudent with their spending.

I would like an update on the negotiation with the Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, the manufacturer of CoronaVac. Why is the vaccine not here yet, when neighbouring countries Indonesia and Singapore have already launched their immunisation programmes?

Indonesia recently rolled out its mass free Covid-19 vaccination programme with its President, Mr Joko Widodo affectionately known as Jokowi, being the first person in the country to receive the first jab of the CoronaVac.  Indonesia targeted those age 18 to 59 to receive the vaccine shots in the maiden phase of its immunisation programme.

Singapore received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 in December 2020.  However, there were reservations among Singaporeans toward taking the vaccines.

I can’t wait for my turn to get vaccinated.  However, I would prefer to receive the vaccine which only require one dose instead of the Moderna, or Pfizer/BioNTech and other vaccines that need two shots — a priming dose followed by a booster shot.  But that is, if I were given the choice.  If there’s really no option then I would take any vaccine that comes my way.

But I would suggest that we start assembling our frontliners and volunteers now for deployment to all vaccine distribution and administration centres.  The people who will be administering the jabs must be well prepared for the large number expected to throng public hospitals in urban, suburban and rural areas once the immunisation programme is rolled out.

The Prime Minister’s Message To The Rakyat

Last month, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin did say that over 80% of Malaysia’s population (close to 27 million people) are expected to be vaccinated by the 1st quarter of 2021.

Malaysia is going to be the first country outside China to carry out the clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate made by the Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, China which will involve 3,000 volunteers.

You can read more about Malaysia’s immunisation plan in the link below.

https://www.pmo.gov.my/2021/01/3000-volunteers-in-phase-3-clinical-trial-for-covid-19-vaccine-pm-muhyiddin/

My Advice: Consult A Doctor Before Getting A Vaccination

I would like to advise those who have diabetes, hypertension or any other comorbidities to consult a family doctor or any qualified physician prior to getting the vaccination.

Malaysia reportedly has one of the highest number of diabetic patients in Asia, with approximately 3.9 million people over the age of 18 which is 1 in 5 adults with this disease.

For those who do not have underlying health issues, I would urge them not to hesitate in getting themselves vaccinated as only when there is herd immunity can there be hope for life to return to normalcy.  We will then be able to come out and mingle with one another no longer fearful of getting infected with the coronavirus, like the good old days where retail outlets, hotels, fitness centres and eateries were abuzz with activities.

Michael Tay: Herd Immunity Is The Answer To Economic Recovery Pre-Covid Days!

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Your Say are those of the contributor, not the blog owner.

 

MCA and JIBA collaboration

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

Johor MCA and Johor Indian Business Association (JIBA) will collaborate to set up a platform to identify retrenched workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and help them to find employment again.

A massive number of Malaysians — I was told 300,000 — have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and border closure.

Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman Michael Tay said a task force will also be formed to reach out to the jobseekers and provide them with training, if needed, to get them re-employed in Johor.

Tay said the task force comprises of a team of individuals who were experts in their respective fields and will have their own approach to assist the public in looking for jobs.

“The task force will match the right candidate to the right job and also schedule training and upskilling programmes for the right job seekers. This would make Malaysians less reliant on the Singapore job market,” he said.

More details later. Stay tuned!

 

 

A time to be compassionate and reasonable

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

By Michael Tay, Johor MCA Government Coordinating Affairs chairman.

I met my friend just now.  He had started his first business at the age of 18.   He’s 50 now and has several shop lots in two shopping malls.

Brian (not his real name) is feeling very stressed as he has received a letter from the management of one of his shop lots, reminding him to pay his rental.

Brian’s business at that mall has not exactly been profitable even before the pandemic simply because the rental was RM10,000 per month and he has three workers, each earning RM1,500, and then there were the taxes.

And with the onslaught of Covid-19, Brian is at a loss as to what he should do next.  The management said they could reduce the rental on the condition that he extends the lease for another two years, or take up additional shop lots which are currently vacant.

I am also a landlord and over the years, I have forged friendships with my tenants.  Since the lockdown started on March 18, I have reduced the rental by 30 to 50 per cent. This is the time to support tenants, not  give them a hard time.  If banks and landlords are going to be uncompromising, they are going to “kill” businessmen like Brian. 

Brian also found out that he was not entitled to any of the incentives in the  government’s stimulus package as his sales turnover exceeded RM100,000.  When Brian approached several local banks for a loan, he also did not get an encouraging answer to his problem.

He has to pay his workers and the rental, and yet he cannot operate the business.  I hope landlords, banks and even the government will look into the plight of people like Brian who are at their wits’ end right now. If they are “destroyed”, this is not going to help our economy.

Please save our local entrepreneurs as they are the ones who are providing jobs for the people.

For those who have savings and cash to spare, now is a good time to enter Bursa Malaysia as share prices have plunged. It’s time to snap up some blue chips.  

Shoppers will venture to malls again when our hospitalisation rates have reached a plateau or when someone can assure us that those who are asymptomatic cannot spread the disease and whether there is going to be a second wave.Until that happens, we should shop online.  But I want to caution online shoppers to verify the seller’s authenticity first before making any purchases as I have also heard many stories about frauds and scams, but I shall leave that story for another day.

Medical infrastructure in place

Michael Tay

By Michael Tay, Johor MCA Government and Coordinating Affairs chairman.

I would like to thank China for sending a team of medical experts to Malaysia to help us fight the coronavirus pandemic.

I see a ray of hope as this team can shed light on how their patients were treated and hopefully, this will boost the recovery rate of our patients. This team could also share with us their experience and knowledge

This is crucial now, as all credible information should be given to the scientific community so that there can be a coronavirus model.

With Malaysia’s population standing at 32.6 million, the number of Covid-19 cases is not alarming as we observe social distancing and we are not densely populated.

I also have nothing but praises for Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, our Director-General of Health, who has been giving regular clear concise updates on the Covid-19.  This neutralises fear and deters baseless speculations, as the public is kept well informed.

Many people want to go back to their normal lives but I know social gathering is definitely out of the question even after the MCO is lifted and until the scientific community comes up with a model.

For those who are struggling with mental stress can turn to Befrienders Johor Baru, for instance. The hotline number is 07 3312300.

I’ve been told that Befrienders’ hotline has been receiving an average of 40 calls per day since the Movement Control Order (MCO) started, double that of what the non-governmental organisation had been receiving before.

Sim Ah Moi, who is Befrienders Johor Baru’s acting president, said during the first phase of the MCO, the number of calls received was between 16 and 46, and during the second phase, 16 to 44.

Financial woes was the main concerns of those who had called the hotline.

Sim said employees were worried about getting their income, while employers were worried about generating the income and sustaining their businesses.

But Befrienders JB had challenges of their own too.  The NGO which has 66 members is  currently running the hotline 7 days a week with only 33 volunteers aged between 29 and 67, as some have opted to observe the MCO.

Volunteers are divided into four shifts with two volunteers per shift, so the organisation actually needed a total of eight volunteers daily. With the number of volunteers down by half, some of the volunteers had to work double shifts.

I applaud them for their tireless efforts and commitment to ease frayed nerves in such trying times.

Although Befrienders JB is not made up of professional counsellors and they can’t give any advice, at least you know there’s someone at the other end of the line who’s listening to you. 

Sometimes it’s not easy to talk to family members, as you may not want them to worry.  So, we have organisations like Befrienders JB to turn to.

For those facing financial worries can also call Johor Welfare Department or the Employees Provident Fund (KWSP) office for assistance.

I would also like to remind those with fever to go for Covid-19 testing immediately.  Several days ago, someone said his father was feeling feverish.  I told him to send his father for a medical check-up, and his father tested positive for Covid-19. 

So, to sum things up. The government has provided all these avenues — a resilient structure is in place.  Have faith that with sound political management and policies, Malaysia will bounce back after the crisis.There may be changes to the norm, such as having to embrace technology such as teleconferencing via Skype or Zoom — at least until the vaccine is unveiled — but we will emerge after the crisis just like before, and maybe even better!

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