By Anthony Dylan

We have just ended 2021 and well on the way into the start of the new year of 2022. Looking back, 2021 has been an incredibly challenging year of the Ox for me. A mixed bag befitting a roller coaster ride.

The year began with the Covid-19 pandemic at its mutating peak. What began as an infection without a vaccine in 2020 came some relief with the announcement of the National Vaccination Program. Whilst this went into high gear, there were debates about the Astra Zeneca vs Sinovac vs Pfizer vaccine types. There was even the introduction of voluntary application for the Aztra Zeneca one to quell fears. Some took the experience like a historical event worthy of Facebook and Instagram moments.

In the end, the vaccination process was a success; at least in my opinion. This aided in the easing of the already stressed medical facilities and all those on the frontlines. Though this was a good result, we all should remember that being vaccinated DOES NOT make you invincible to infection. It just removes the critical conditions.

Many of us waited with anxiety for the MySejahtera appointments as one by one people around us started to get their dates. At one stage, walk-ins were created but created crowds which were later managed upon review. Still, the whole program was a revelation to us as what began in February and by 13 October 2021 the country managed to get 90% of the adult population fully vaccinated. Now this is 97%. Those between the ages of 12 to 17 years have reached 87% full vaccination rate. This current total population vaccination rate had reached 78%.

Of course, just like in 2020, we had a new Prime Minister sworn in on 21st August 2021. This is the 3rd Prime Minister we had in Malaysia after the 14th General Elections in 2018. We had Mahathir (PM 7 on 10th May 2018), Mahiaddin Yasin (PM 8 on 1 March 2020) before Ismail Sabri (PM 9 on 21st August 2021). This is the first time in the history of Malaysia that we had 3 Prime Ministers in a term.

It was also the first time in history that an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) was done between the Federal Government and Pakatan Harapan to ensure the transformation and political stability of the Government. The MOU was signed on the 13th of September 2021. This was one way to reel in the reins on would be frogs and those who use their position to coerce. One of the most significant understanding is that the 15th General elections would not be called no earlier than 31st July 2022. Another significant aspect is the importance of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 which was placed as Item 5 within the document’s appendix. The timing was quite commendable as Malaysia then celebrated her 58th birthday since formation.

This year on 19th September 2021, in the early morning, my father passed away in Kuching peacefully at home. I was not able to return home as I had not completed my full vaccination appointment. I had to coordinate everything from here across the South China Sea. My brother could only return after the funeral as there were no flights. What he got was an awfully expensive one-way ticket which cost five times the normal price. My last Christmas with him was in 2019 as in 2020, the borders were closed.

It was not an easy experience as you had no time to grief when you must undertake the lead to do everything remotely. We were blessed that we had our relatives back home to assist my mother and me with everything. My father, Frankie Jurem Anak Nyombui had a blessed life.

A husband. A father. A St John Singai and Dragon school alumni with a HSC from Tanjong Lobang. A Colombo Plan scholar. Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada graduate in 1970. BA(Hons) Pol. Science/Public Administration. He was a determined young man who learned to improve his knowledge by reading up newspapers which were used to wrap produce from the market.

He was determined to make Sarawak Dayaks proud by being the first and only Dayak Sarawak State Director of Customs, Royal Customs & Excise. He led the state from 1997 until retirement in 2000. He was also a self-taught golfer who learnt how to play from a scrapbook of Greg Niklaus newspaper tips. A knife sharpening specialist. An expert box packer. A leader. A pepper and plant expert.

He loved his BBQ, the roasted Christmas Turkey and Lamb leg. Never one who shirked from taking the lead to help. Shies from the public eye as he always said it was not his style. Beyond the stoic expression was a man of immense kindness and compassion. He completed his dream of entering politics and was the Secretary General of the Sarawak National Party. Though he lost in the 10th Sarawak elections of 2011 when he stood in N02 Tasik Biru, he never regretted his decision to stand. It was important to him to make a stand rather than to take the less principled and easy way out.

His time came on 19th September 2021 on the day of the resurrection of Christ. He was laid to rest at a place of his choice overlooking the St Peter’s Church in Padungan on 21st September 2021 on the same day as the Mid-Autumn Festival.

My mother said it is good to celebrate life when a person leaves us. What we do daily would be worthwhile if we do what is right and to do it right.

Here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2022. Do celebrate life while we are at it as there is no time to dwell of what could have been.