The harsh reality is that life must go on, Covid or not
Published on: Sunday, May 10, 2020
By: Balanced Perspective
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WHILE many were looking forward to the relaxation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) that would lead to the reopening of the larger bulk of businesses, there was also a chorus of objections from another group.

The reasons cited by the latter are clear and there is no argument that having more people out in public will see an increased risk of infection. To be fair, if everyone were to be disciplined and adopt the necessary measures when they are outside, such as wearing face masks and observing social distancing, the risks would be reduced.

Let’s be realistic; there will not be a situation in the near future when the government can safely guarantee that it will be 100pc safe for everyone to go out.

Let’s for the moment accept the position of those who are objecting to the conditional MCO. I would like to highlight one issue and then ask this group to propose their solutions because they are only seeing one aspect of the problem right now.

There are several million people (both Malaysians and migrant workers) in our country who are daily wage earners. They have not had any work for the last six weeks and it would be safe to assume that they would have used up all their money by now!

If the closure of businesses and restrictions on activities were to continue further, how will they survive? It is obvious that those who object to the reopening now would have the means to go on for an extended period of time, hence their perspective to let health and safety override everything else. 

But for the less fortunate who have run out of money, the situation is desperate. If there is no lifeline for them, what would the consequences be?

I understand all your concerns but what do we do with the millions of people who don’t have any money left? Do we let them all starve while we hang on to the MCO?

Realistically, even if the government had the money now, the logistics to provide aid to such widespread and massive numbers would be near impossible to manage!

If businesses are allowed to open, there may be the possibility of higher infections and there may be additional deaths. But if businesses are not allowed to open, there certainly will be a few million deaths due to starvation!

If there is a practical solution that can maintain an extended closure while not letting millions starve, I think the proposal should be raised. If there is no realistic and achievable way out, then the only choice is to reopen and let businesses as well as people survive. 

But everyone will have to play their role in reducing the risk of further infections.

The situation with this hungry group is close to breaking point and there is a serious worry that things might just boil over and we would end up with a crisis of the social order also erupting, heaven forbid!

Covid-19 is not just a health crisis but an economic one as well, and we should not let it degenerate into a third crisis. Ultimately, the management of this crisis will need an approach that delicately and practically balances out the need to tackle the health and economic issues simultaneously.


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