Pandemic Revelation

By Sarawakian

It has been a rather quiet Chinese New Year as the country went into MCO (Movement Control Order) mode. This year’s version of MCO is starkly different from the original MCO. As such, it is correct to say that the former dubbed as MCO1 and this year as MCO2 are not the same. Let us not see another one which could see an MCO3.

The firecrackers and fireworks have been greatly subdued and the current sentiment borders on being fed up with politicians and the delight that the vaccination may bring to everyone. It is true that in the last year, we have seen how tough our community is. We found that Malaysia still went through the year still being able to run normally with adaptation. We could have been better off if only the government and politicians looked at the focal point on assisting everyone in a fair and just manner.

Just look around us. Many who have adapted in selling their services and products. The hawkers kept on going with every moment when SOPs suddenly rain down much like the unpredictable weather. The same could be said for those who are in hospitality especially those who used to cook in their own establishments. They created a niche demand with business from home. Jobs were actually created instead of being lost. It is actually a change within the economics of each industry. This could be done as new demands come in. For instance, the creation of jobs for delivery services for food and packages. Online shopping has become something familiar instead of being unfamiliar. Fear has been watered down especially on trust issues with online shopping.

Some shopping centres and retail shops have started to open shorter hours instead of the historic 10am till 10pm timings. I still think the best hours are between 11am till 8pm on Sundays till Thursdays and 11am till 9pm on Fridays to Saturdays. You can still shop but with shorter hours for the commercial companies to save and make effective use of their costs. Along the way, it helps with going green.

The ugly revelation of this pandemic has to be with disposables. I am very sure the landfill and the trash bins would now be filled with a sinful amount of plastics and face masks. The whole past year created a reverse of the good accomplishments in reducing plastic and materials. This would come back to haunt us. The food delivery business has created a new demand for containers and this would definitely create a huge landfill problem. Pollution would become a huge problem soon if not already is.

In Subang Jaya, you would have noticed a sudden increase in the number of shop house based supermarkets. It seemed as if the supermarket business is on a roll. Shopping for frozen, fresh and dry goods along with daily essentials become a real convenience. It is no longer just the big boys in shopping centres offering them but your neighbourhood options have increased. You would have also noticed new meat mini markets much like the delis you see overseas starting to open up for both halal and non halal options.

The everyday kopitiam would now have to contend with modernized chap fan shops, cafes and also home cooks turn entrepreneurs opening a restaurant. Some restaurants have become overnight sensation for good quality meals. If you looked closely, this is a positive revelation form the pandemic. People seem to be nicer and smile more as they enjoy the simple life. However, I am sure they hold some fear of the future but comforted that adapting to less is actually more.

The use of cashless payments especially in Subang Jaya has taken off quite well. Even the hawkers have somewhat taken this in their stride as they found the cost to do so beats the risks and costs with cash. Going to the bank is quite a hassle with the SOPs and you would be at risk queuing and waiting to enter the bank. The possible adaptation of the universal QR code very near in the future across all e-wallet platforms would further make this a real progress forward. It would not be long when one would only use the Credit Card for purchases larger than the limitations of the e-wallets. Cash would soon be a thing of the past and this could come much sooner than we think today.

The future is not as bleak as many have had put it. When you head out to the shop houses and the shopping centres and to eateries; many are still there. The gloom and doom many predicted did not happen. However, this calm should not be taken as a barometer for the future as the mismanagement by any government would eventually cause problems. The most glaring one would be on education.

People need to go to school. Online learning cannot work for every level of the varied communities in Malaysia. Connectivity and access to affordable hardware and software are still not fixed. It has been a year since and still education is not being put at the forefront. There is a sure danger now of the ‘lost generation’ or ‘transit generation’. This would be a case for the future which would snowball into greater issues if there is no solution to ensure the gap is closed down.

The pandemic has revealed that Malaysians adapt well and that politicians are really unimportant. Economics are simple demand and supply. That drives the simple mindset. Education can also be found in trying, experimenting and experiencing on your own.  We all did in the past one year. The pandemic revelation showed us how we do not need politicians.

Do stay safe and really #kitajagakita!