On March 16, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the imposition of the 14-day Movement Control Order (MCO) which came into effect two days later.
We crossed the halfway mark yesterday (barring a possible extension beyond March 31). How have we fared so far?
Here are some of the good, bad and ugly points:
GOOD: Given the seriousness of the situation, Muhyiddin does the logical thing and announces the MCO.
BAD: His announcement is vague on what it is all about, leaving not only the people confused but even the authorities.
UGLY: Panic buying starts almost immediately. Toilet paper becomes a valuable product. One would think it could replace gold as a precious trading commodity.
GOOD: The calm ones among the people stock up but not for Doomsday. It’s just enough for the next few days.
BAD: The not-so-calm-ones stock up for Doomsday. The least said about them the better.
UGLY: Huge crowds at supermarkets not only negate the objective of the MCO but actually become a major cause of concern as the coronavirus loves crowds.
GOOD: The MCO may be a blessing in disguise as it could signal the advent of a work-from-home culture.
BAD: Some bosses are bad people. They still want to make their kulis come to work.
UGLY: Some of those who are neither in essential services nor need not work from home are joyous as they decide it’s a good time to balik kampung.
UGLY: The authorities keep flip-flopping, changing the rules and requirements each time the situation changes. The people are told they need police permits to travel out of town. They throng the police stations to get the permits. Things almost get out of hand. The coronavirus is smiling again as the red carpet has been rolled out. The permit requirement is withdrawn after a few hours.
GOOD, BAD AND UGLY: Good for those who can now drive back to their hometowns. Bad as there are massive jams on the highways. Ugly because Mr Coronavirus has an even bigger smile now.
GOOD: People start adjusting to the new lifestyle after a few days.
BAD: They complain of boredom and having to put up with annoying spouses.
UGLY: The stubborn ones don’t give a damn and keep breaking the law by roaming freely.
GOOD: The police show utmost restraint despite their reputation as being forceful in days gone by. They only advise those who are out to go indoors.
BAD: Some people just don’t listen. The advice falls on deaf ears.
UGLY: The coronavirus has a devilish grin.
BAD: Life’s going to get tough for everyone, especially those in the lower income group and those who operate non-essential businesses. They have to tutup kedai.
UGLY: They have families to feed, rental to pay, bank loans to service but they have no money.
GOOD: Muhyiddin announces some stuff like immediate payment of the RM200 under the BSH. Payment of PTPTN loans is also deferred for three months.
BAD: That’s not enough. People are badly affected and more needs to be done.
GOOD: Muhyiddin makes a plea to the people who keep going for jalan-jalan.
“Please stay at home, please stay at home.”
Everyone has been parroting him since. It must have worked because there is a vast increase in the number of people who have gone indoors.
BAD: Some are still out there. There are reports of wet markets filled with aunties and uncles rubbing shoulders in the early morning rush. There are restaurants which remain defiant and allow dine-in customers. Actually, what language do this people speak? They don’t seem to understand how bad the situation is.
UGLY: Yes, the coronavirus is rubbing its hands in glee. There’s still a lot to feed on.
GOOD: Muhyiddin announces more steps to help those affected like allowing EPF withdrawals of RM500 for 12 months from Account 2. The PTPTN loan payment deferment is extended to six months.
BAD: This is not what the people want, say some NGOs and leaders of society. They want monetary aid to come from the country’s reserves as this is an emergency situation. It should not be from the people’s savings for old age.
GOOD/BAD: The army has been called in to help police implement social distancing. Some people are happy with the move, others not.
GOOD: A six-month moratorium is announced for bank loan repayment. No one’s complaining (yet).
BAD: All those holidaymakers now want to go back to their own homes. There are thousands of them.
GOOD: The police tell them to stay put. They’re not going anywhere. Serves them right. Of course, there are the legitimate cases and they will be let through to continue their journey.
BAD: Confusion still reigns after a week. For example, there are conflicting rules on wearing masks. All these nagging issues should have been settled much earlier.
BAD: The number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia has shot up to 1,624 with 16 deaths so far.
GOOD: The upward trend seems to have been curtailed with fewer new cases yesterday than a day earlier. It’s, however, too early to tell. Let’s hope there is no need to extend the MCO.
GOOD: We have to put our differences aside for the betterment of everyone. Let’s fight together to wipe that stupid smile off the coronavirus’ face.