By Sarawakian

The Year of the Ox is entering the last few months before the Year of the Tiger comes in February 2022. It has indeed become a ‘niu’ year for us. The National Recovery Plan for Selangor has gone into Phase 3 from 1 October 2021. The Malaysian adult population is nearing 90% of being fully vaccinated.

Perhaps, it could lead to a better ending to this year’s last quarter compared with last year where another spike derailed most of the expectations of many.  As I write this, many economic sectors have been allowed to open. Shopping centres are starting to kickstart as all shops other than pubs and clubs which were allowed to open at least until 10 pm or up to midnight depending on the SOPs.

Cinemas are starting to come alive with previously released and new movies to whet up the appetites of those who yearn for movie experiences. The Marvel titles would definitely improve the beeline to any cinemas. However, we do note that those 17 years and below are still not allowed to enter cinemas. Strange, when gyms do allow with a guardian as with taking a flight to Langkawi or in an approved coach. Perhaps this should be streamlined sooner rather than later as cinemas are nearly the same as being in an airconditioned coach or a flight. Furthermore, I am sure those 17 years and below would throng cinemas with their family when they are allowed to.

The Government has started to vaccinate Malaysian citizens aged 12 to 17 years and it would be a matter of time this segment of fully vaccinated exceeds the 90% threshold faster than the adult population.

As of today, Malaysia is quite blessed that more than 95% of the population are in the same thought of getting vaccinated. There should not be any problems because, in the modern day babies born would go through a series of vaccinations. Not bad considering that we started the journey at the tail end of the first quarter and within 9 months we would have a strong full vaccination rate for both adults and those from 12 to 17 years old.

The Malaysian population is a hardy one. For over the one and a half years since March 2020, Malaysians have proven themselves to be resilient. Many had to change their way of doing business and the adoption of technology to shop and pay have become a norm. To be honest, people start to trust others more. People start to help out their community. Humility has shown itself in many communities. Even crude politics and nonsensical fanfare could not derail the change.

I guess the pandemic has also removed the caustic sting of politicians. Of course, there are still those who choose to run their mouth and go back to the norm of insinuating remarks and veiled sarcasm. I guess it would take some time before things get the way we want it to be. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see when the voting age moves from 21 years to 18 years. The soon to be launched automatic voter registration is now doing a pre-registration. It will pave the way for future electronic voting. This will help limit the crowds at polling stations if the future goes this way.

Already today, we have seen the widespread acceptance of contactless payments and the use of e-wallets in addition to the traditional credit or debit card taps. Many stalls and small holders have opted for the simpler QR codes of Duit Now which takes all forms of e-wallets from GrabPay to Boost to Touch N Go.

All these adoptions along with the sudden increase of online shopping experiences would force many traditional retail shops to improve their service delivery levels and experience. Even luxury goods have gone online. As food deliveries remain strong, Shopee has also jumped into the bandwagon with shopeefood. There are others like AirAsia, Aliments, Lalamove and even Beep which offer you services at your fingertips.

With all the new experiences running at breakneck speed in the last 18 months, there is no denying that many of these practices would be here to stay. Many companies are still opting for rotational work from home because they found that the deliverables are not affected as much and somehow the yield is somewhat similar. The plus point is that they are now able to reduce office space sizes and reduce costs. There are companies now also looking at a subscription model for mobile devices inclusive of laptops in recognition of this new normal. These further cements the fact that the way one does business has changed dramatically in such a short span of time globally.

Priorities have changed. Offices are no longer sought after image status. In the end, it is about how one conducts business with the aim of turning a profit. The pandemic has stripped us bare. It is a good thing. We must learn that humility exists within us. It is just that we suppressed them in the pursuit of material wealth and the feeding of ego.

The last quarter will reveal itself. Let us pray that we pass through this quarter well. Let us continue to stay vigilant and hold the 3Cs and 3Ws to heart.

God Bless