Taiping folk not taking chances after Batu cluster emerges

Taiping’ streets have been very much deserted in recent days.

Ong Eng Peng, 62, decided to take a drive around the Perak town to see it for himself.

“I drove to Taiping, Aulong and some other areas yesterday. There weren’t many people out. It was rather quiet,” said Ong, owner of Khim Heong Biscuit Factory.

Ong, who has been operating the famous Taiping factory since the 90s, admitted he has received a number of cancellations from tour operators and fears that this will continue after health authorities revealed a new cluster in the sleepy town.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, during his press conference yesterday, revealed the Batu cluster was detected after Covid-19 screening tests involving the detention camp staff and their relatives. The cluster registered seven positive cases on Oct 5 and they have been admitted to Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, Perak.

Messages of supposedly “high risk” places, including schools, have been circulating among the locals.

“With this happening, I’m sure more people will stay away from visiting Taiping. Businesses here will surely take a beating,” Ong added.

Ong’s factory is famous for making Hokkien biscuits and mooncakes. It is one of three factories in Malaysia that manufacture traditional Hokkien mooncakes.

The family business started in Penang in the 40s. Ong’s father ran the show from the 60s to the 90s before he took over.

“Yes, I anticipate businesses will be hit hard.

“The coronavirus doesn’t come with a signal … we will not be warned. It will just hit us so we all have to play a part, follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and take care.”

Rachel Ho, director of cruise company Eagle Sightseeing Tour in Kuala Sepetang, admitted many in Taiping are concerned about the spike in Covid-19 cases, more so with the emergence of the Batu cluster.

“Some 80 per cent of our tours have been cancelled in recent days. We anticipate more cancellations,” said Ho.

“It’s hard to survive. We are thinking of selling food instead. We need to find ways to change or infuse new concepts to our current business plan.”

Ho, who stays in Taiping, said people are not going out.

“Taiping has always been quiet on weekdays and it’s even quieter now. Some eateries only open twice a week.

“Locals hardly go out at night. We generally stay at home, watching television or spending time surfing the Internet,” she added.

Dalbir Singh, 72, said he has been indoors most of the time and plans to continue doing so because of the new cluster.

“My wife and I don’t go out much. Even our children constantly remind us not to go out,” said Dalbir.

“The famous Siang Malam eatery is open but it’s not like before. There are no tables and chairs on the streets and most of the partons take away instead of dining in.

“I still go for my walks if the weather is fine. When I bump into friends during my walks or quick grocery outing, it’s mostly hello and goodbye. That’s it.”

Dalbir, a Kechara Soup Kitchen Taiping volunteer, said strict SOPs are in place when he is tasked to distribute food every Tuesday.

“Being an outdoor person, I look forward to distributing food to those in Aulong and Teka. Yesterday we handed out food to some 18 families in those areas.

“But it’s straightforward. We hand them the food, maintain physical distancing and move on to the next family. There’s no small talk or hanging around.”

The elders in Taiping are certainly feeling the pinch but Dalbir said it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“Some elders continue on with their morning activities and exercise routine at the Lake Gardens but it’s confined to really small groups. The fear, especially among the elders, is there and staying indoors can get frustrating but it’s best we take precautions and beat Covid-19,” he added.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

CMCO IN KLANG, SANDAKAN, PAPAR AND TUARAN

Klang in Selangor and three Sabah districts – Sandakan, Papar and Tuaran – will be placed under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) starting Oct 9 at 12.01am.

Only those involved in essential services will be allowed to operate. Eateries, hypermarkets, sundry shops, petrol stations and pharmacies will be allowed to open from 6am to 6pm.

All sports, social and recreational activities will not be allowed.

POOR LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE HAMPERS POPULATION COMPLIANCE

Senior Consultant Paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS said leadership by example is lacking in the fight against Covid-19.

Dr Amar said: “We expect elected representatives to rise to the challenge of dealing with this pandemic by first leading by example. What we have is a near absence of leadership by example and obvious double standards.”

He said there were many images and videos of elected representatives breaking SOPs with no consequences.

“Poor leadership by example hampers population compliance of effective measures. Inconsistent SOPs (double standards) significantly impair control measures.

“The public needs to see one standard enforced in the country, irrespective of status,” he added.

THREE-YEAR-OLD, MALAYSIAN-BORN MUM FOUND DEAD IN UK FLAT

A Malaysian-born and her three-year-old son were found dead in a flat in Brentford, UK in what is suspected to be a murder-suicide.

Media reports in UK reported that the toddler and his mother Poorna Kaameshwari Sivaraj, 36, were possibly last seen on Sept 21 and had been “dead for some time”.

Poorna’s Malaysian-born husband Kuha Raj Sithamparanathan, who had stabs wounds, was alive when police forced entry into their flat. He, however, succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

The couple reportedly married in Kuala Lumpur in 2015.

PAUL REVINGTON BETTER AS NATIONAL COACH, SAYS OLYMPIAN MIKE

Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) should have made Paul Revington the national coach instead of the tasking the South African to work on grassroots hockey.

Olympian Maninderjit Singh insists Revington would be a better bet for the national team to achieve its ambitious goals which include qualifying for the Asia Cup final next year en route to earning a spot in the World Cup in 2023 and playing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

EDDIE VAN HALEN DIES

Legendary guitarist Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, better known as Eddie Van Halen, passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 65.

His son Wolf Van Halen broke the news on Twitter.

Eddie Van Halen founded the rock group Van Halen with his older brother Alex in the 1970s as the band later became one the most influential American rock groups of all time.

The band’s famous songs include Jump and Eruption.

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