Oi! #newnormal

by Anthony Dylan

#dudukrumah #stayathome #kitajagakita #staysafe #socialdistancing

Now we can add another, #newnormal

We are heading towards a new normal. This new hash tag is currently trending worldwide. In Malaysia, this is being constantly preached by people in government and by many business owners. We are advised that we need to prepare ourselves for this.

What is a new normal? In layman terms, what it means is that you would evolve your past norms into a creation of a new norm due to an effect which has had a tremendous impact. In actual fact, this is a new jargon which in reality is not entirely new.

Nowadays we slurp up new jargons daily. We would normally get hooked with sound bites, a term concocted by those in the Marketing fraternity. The trick is to create a word, a phrase or a statement to skew your mind of thinking. Basically, letting you see only the tip of the iceberg without looking at the whole iceberg whose base below sight is larger.

The Movement Control Order (previously called The Restricted Movement Order) which began on 18th March 2020 was extended 3 times and was earlier supposed to end on 12th May 2020. However, as of 1st May 2020, we are suddenly advised that nearly all sectors would be allowed to open with conditions on 4th May 2020. This created a mixed reaction of relief, fear and baffling views. At this point of writing, we still see a double digit case count in Malaysia. Most of these cases are still not imported and extensive testing still not at full speed. This is probably due to costs. It seems that from 4th May 2020 we would enter into the CMCO (Conditional Movement Control Order).

Human beings are very resourceful. They would easily adapt to any situation and likely to let their guard down when things get better. In looking at the time required to be at home or in your village, you would need to really adjust. The first thing you would notice is how many of us think that everyone is like us. One would think that internet connectivity and e wallets (digital payments) are nothing new. One would think that each home would have many smart devices and computers and broadband. This is a fallacy when you look closer and remove the veils.

Those in villages and those who cannot afford would likely not have what others think are normal to have. We are all not the same. Each of us would have different views of what is considered essential. To many villagers, the MCO affected the marketability of produce and the tending to activities like fishing, aquaculture, meat farms and agriculture. However, most would still be able to eat and survive. Others especially in urban areas who rely on actual money to buy food would be harder pressed.

There have been cases where villagers who need fuel to power equipment and to pay for medicines and healthcare having to walk miles to an automated teller machine (ATM). There have been cases where online schooling is not possible as so few have computers and power. This is the reality.

It is an urgent need to look at affordability in the future if we want the community to progress. Having to get those at the top of the food production supply line online is determinant on the efforts in creating affordable internet services and devices. Without which, this is not possible. The same is said about medical facilities. What we see nowadays are corporations running medical facilities. The lack of accessible medical facilities like public institutions show how much care corporations have for the general public.

There is an expected shift of mindsets coming out of this MCO. Many have tried to do things where they thought would not work. Like I said before, people are adaptive if pushed enough to change. There has been a push for delivery services and take away services in the food and beverage sectors. This would include hawkers, home cooks, and petty traders up to the franchised businesses. Much like how fashion and electronic purchasing starting a shift to online, this has become a new normal for food and beverage players.

Pharmacies and fresh markets have also found a way. You can easily obtain your vitamins, pharmaceutical products not needing a prescription online. Did you know that you could also get fresh vegetables, fruits, meat (fresh, chilled or even frozen) and also seafood? Seafood can also be ordered fresh, chilled or frozen. You can get other typical grocery items like dairy, dried goods and even canned or bottled items.

The convenience factor of ordering online with the opportunity of choosing is a huge draw. The prices are mostly better than physical supermarkets. Most offers online markets prioritise convenience, value and affordability. They are also strong with immediate promotions and discounts without need for loyalty programs. Where some sell in larger packages fit for 2 families, many have suddenly made new friends to share the account to get the discount. Tesco only takes debit or credit cards paid at the time of delivery. And you can change your mind in omitting an ordered item when it arrives without question. You can also select your time slot for a small fee.

There are many delivery services, takeaway or self collect options for food. It is not just about Grab or Beepit or Lalamove. The use of messaging apps of Messenger, Telegram and Whatsapp along with Facebook or Instagram makes the physical store near forgotten. This is the new normal. Let us still remain cautious with our lives and savings and buy things you need rather than to want. Avoid crowded places, avoid confined situations and avoid close communications. #kitajagakita is the only way we can win.

Let us pray we get through this together. The next phase of the CMCO beginning 4th May 2020 is unchartered territory.

God Bless