Damned if you do, damned if you don't
Published on: Sunday, May 10, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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I have quite a few things to chat about this week, which appears to be the last one before rules are loosened and we are allowed to have two people in a car and go to Kaison to buy a plastic table cloth. I have to say I wonder if it is too early, and it seems Mr Shafie is wondering the same thing. Great minds. It is this difficult balance between the economy and the health service, isn’t it? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t…If we stay locked down, we are less likely to catch the virus, but more like to lose our jobs as our employers run up debts and can’t pay us. 


Lockdown life

We have been making the most of the food that our favourite restaurants prepare (supporting them too – we don’t want them to close!), and baking away as well – low carb bread and cakes with coconut or soya or almond flour and lots of fresh vegetable juices. So perhaps we will be healthy when this is over. Except for the wine which seems to slip down very easily each evening. Still it could be spirits, so not so bad…

The WordPower Quiz 

This has been gathering momentum. If you haven’t done it then go to www.wordpowersabah.my and download it each Friday, do it with a team or on your own, record and discuss your answers over the weekend and submit it by Monday lunchtime. Don’t Google anything – of course, nobody can stop you but it’s no fun if you do. It has become truly international, which is great! Teams from Belgium, Spain, UK, Hong Kong, Sarawah, Australia and Sabah. Last week’s winner was a joint Sarawak/Australia team. 

I’m noticing the different characteristics of quizzes from different countries. I prefer the ones that are fairly hard but not appallingly so – the ones that make you think. If it’s too hard people give up and go away, and if it’s too easy there’s no point in doing it – no challenge. But the questions from Asia are simple Right or Wrong ones, giving you very little discussion or deduction room. Our quiz, which Nick from Brain of Borneo and I put together over a week, has a mixture and we are working hard to make it neither Euro nor Asia centric, and to pepper it with plenty of stuff that can be answered with a bit of lateral thinking. 

Support local

I have noticed however that Sabahans appear to think that if something is local, it can’t be that good. Unless someone else says it is. Am I wrong? Instead of relishing the fact that we have started a successful activity, people have sent messages saying they are not going to do it, and then I see that they have entered something similar, but not from Sabah.

Why on earth? 

People say to me that they love Sabah for its laidback tolerance and so on. Of course that is true, but it stops being praiseworthy when it is so laid back that it doesn’t support homegrown initiatives. These need support at the very beginning, to get off the ground, as well as support as they carry on and grow. 

We need to rise above this, or we won’t have anything new happening here. Think about it – why do many talented Sabahans leave this island and seek their fortunes elsewhere? 

Stick your necks out. If something interests you, try it, and then see what happens. You may help something really good spread and settle down. If it’s awful, don’t do it again - but give it a go. Sabah is hardly overflowing with activities and distractions, especially in these tightened times. And our quiz doesn’t cost you a penny, and sociably passes an hour or so. Aw, go on.

We are also adding to the interviews and the Life lessons on the website, so please have a listen. This week I interviewed David Hensley, international branding expert, who works all over the world from his London office. And next I am talking to Nick Keith about connectivity. https://www.wordpowersabah. my/covid-19/

Fresh Air waves

I am going to start a new radio programme with Ben Uzair on KK12fm. It is called Fresh Air and starts at the end of this month and will continue on the last Saturday of every month in fact. A new initiative – do support it! We have called it the antidote to isolation; we will have interesting interviews (David Hensley, Nick Keith, child therapist Fiona Hooper, and plenty of local people who have something to say), chat and humour and will welcome listeners’ input. When we can we will be out and about, talking to people in KK and elsewhere. If you are doing something interesting, wherever you are in Sabah, please let us know. There’s a Facebook page you can use and telephone numbers – all on the station’s website: www.kk12fm.com 

Working from home 

This is going to increase after people have realised that it is possible. Is that the case? Yes, I am sure it is, but it’s not perfect. I live with someone who has Zoom meetings all the time, and is completely exhausted at the end of the day. 

They are not a replacement for face to face contact, but could be very useful and perhaps our working lives can be a mixture. The Conversation is funded by University College London and has several interesting articles. Have a look at this: https://theconversation.com/remote-working-the-new-normal-for-many-but-it-comes-with-hidden-risks-new-research-133989. 

It says many interesting things, not least that: Digital technology may free people to work remotely in the first place, but it also causes unforeseen problems. My participants reported a growing expectation to be available 24/7, reflecting similar findings in other studies.

This is an issue for the entire workforce, but it is arguably exacerbated by remote working. Our 24/7 work culture didn’t happen overnight, or because of coercive managers. Instead, the perceived division between work and non-work has steadily disappeared over time, while few of us were paying attention.

… We all need to keep an eye on this dangerous trend. It is crucial to set clear boundaries between home life and work and not put pressure on ourselves to be available outside working hours – particularly during a crisis when many of us will need to support family and friends… Remote working could well become permanent for many people. Many companies were encouraging staff to work elsewhere to reduce office costs before the outbreak, and this will probably be all the more attractive to the businesses that survive this crisis. One wonders if in ten years we will look back from our remote workstations and remember 2020 as the year we last went into the office. Either way, we need to be careful. Remote working always tantalises with the promise of freedom, but it can end up delivering the exact opposite.


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