By The Ipoh Echo Team
Lessons in the Time of MCO
In this article, we reflect on an extraordinary time in history. A time when we face our fears on our mortality; a time when we show our care for our loved ones and humanity in general, not by proximity but through distance; a time of home confinement; of washing hands, not in hitherto cursory manner but for a full duration of singing 2 “Happy Birthday” ditties; a time of social distancing, wearing masks, carrying sanitiser, and washing hands again.
As these health admonitions ring in our ears, and living with these conditions while coping with loneliness, fear of the future and fears around money, what learnings have emerged from the multiple phases of the movement control order (MCO)? An even more vital question is, will the precious lessons last? Everybody has a story to tell and thus, Ipoh Echo spoke to Perakeans from all walks of life to share their thoughts and encouraging words.
What Will Your New Normal Look Like? – Part 1
Lam Cheong Tuck, 64, who runs Csk Construction Work observed, “Throughout the period of MCO, I was unable to work and therefore unable to earn money from my business. I must still pay my workers and at the same time take care of my household expenses too in the midst of things getting more expensive these days. When MCO was ongoing, my business had to stop because construction work involved outside exposure and foreign workers were needed to complete the job.”
“After the MCO has been lifted, I hope to see a safe working environment and a virus-free zone. I’m most grateful for the doctors, nurses and of course those who have been supplying vegetables and providing for our daily needs,” Lam said.
As a business co-owner, Ipohite Ceylyn Tay learned to always use foresight in planning solutions to minimise damages caused by disasters, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “I also realised not only the importance of maintaining a positive mindset in leading my business team but also to ensure that they aren’t at a loss for direction,” the managing director of Team Some Sdn Bhd added.
Ceylyn also voiced her concern towards the underprivileged, stating, “As one of many food providers in town, all we can offer is food. During this crisis, many individuals are unable to obtain sufficient essentials to support their daily needs. So, it is high time for us who are within our capabilities to give back to the needy.”
27-year-old Ipohite businessperson Lau Wai Kit shared that he got much busier daily during the MCO period, “I’ve actually kept in contact with my clients and friends via Zoom application. Being in my line of work, I got the privilege to do so.”
“I also learned the importance of having a stable backup income source,” he added. “A lot of my friends either lost their jobs or had their salaries cut due to the pandemic.”
Lau felt happy during the MCO because he utilised the abundant amount of time doing things to improve his way of life. “Besides the expansion of my business circles, I read books and kept up with at least 10 of my contacts daily. I would say that the MCO helped me realise things that I hadn’t realised earlier, such as the importance of having friends and good health,” he explained. “Never take things for granted.”
Privena. A, 25, who runs Beisik Bake Shop online, experienced having three orders being cancelled back to back during the MCO period. “I learned to take a step back and look at my business from a third party point of view as I have some time to myself to figure things out,” she said.
Sylvia, 57, with an online cosmetic business, reflected, “During the MCO period, without production and transportation, we were unable to do our business as we were not allowed to step out of our house. All forms of transportation were put on hold and we couldn’t get the products delivered on time even though there were orders from customers. We should have invested in storing the products earlier.”
She expressed her gratitude to all the NGOs for all their charity work during the difficult times.
Vincent Lee, Chairman of the Board of Management for Home for the Aged (CWS) Simee highlighted, “The Home has been closed to all visitors and vendors due to the MCO since March 16 until further notice. All the residents are under complete lockdown and medical appointments are rescheduled upon advice by the doctors. The daily activities are postponed to have social distancing and sick residents are identified and attended to medically.”
The Home depends entirely on public donations for its running expenses and upkeep. Since the MCO, both donations in cash and kind have decreased drastically.
“This crisis has taught us to strategise ourselves in order to sustain the Home for the future. Everyone needs to be thanked for their role in this pandemic especially our staff who are very dedicated and continue to work in this difficult and dangerous situation. The Home is learning to deal with this pandemic and will compile the details for future reference. We are blessed with dedicated staff but they are getting older and the challenge is finding younger caregivers,” Vincent observed.
Readers who would like to lend a helping hand can contact the home at 05 547 3252 or visit its website: www.kgsimeehome.com
Wan Yee Mun, a member at Kechara Ipoh Study Group and volunteer for Kechara Food Bank told Ipoh Echo, “All our activities of praying, recycling and Food Bank activities have stopped temporarily since March 18. But from time to time, if we receive donations of vegetables from our sponsors, we will still collect it and re-channel it to the needy.”
According to her, the NGOs, volunteers and generous sponsors play an important role during this crisis. “They act immediately to reach out to the needy whenever our government lacks the capability and manpower to do so. As many of these NGOs have been helping the needy, they know better about where the needy are and what they need. During MCO, those not in the essential services had more time to help those in need,” she explained.
The period of restricted movement sparked her interest to learn dharma online and to grow vegetables for her own consumption like growing mung beans in milk cartons, plant herbs and vegetables in pots.
“I am also very impressed with our General Hospital having implemented the drive thru pharmacy and also to post our medicine to us. We were asked to wait in our car and they would call us when the medicine was ready. The waiting time for collection of my medicine was only about 15 minutes!” Yee Mun recalled.
NorHazira Jalik, the Ipoh girl who founded Trash Hero Ipoh (THI) shared, “Due to the MCO, we had to cancel our family meet (Trash Hero Malaysia) that was supposed to take place in April in Kuala Lumpur. We are using this opportunity to catch up on our administrative work but we are eagerly awaiting the day when we can go back out to clean and to educate. We make sure every volunteer uses proper gloves, masks and to wash hands after clean-ups etc.”
Plus, she has become a feeder for stray dogs and cats: “During the second phase of MCO, I asked for donations in the form of some cat/dog food. Everyone, regardless of ethnicities, started texting me and they sent kibble to my house or when met even though we were total strangers. I also sell my artworks and 50% from sales will go towards the fund for our furry friends.”
Staying true to the principle that keeping the environment clean is a collective responsibility that we all share, she also does solo clean-ups in the vicinity of her house.
Readers can check out NorHazira’s (fondly known as Ira) paintings and crafts on Instagram at Owlie Craft Centre.
“I notice I can train dogs quite well and am now contemplating to learn more in a local training centre for dogs,” she enthused.
Ipohite Sara Chu who is stuck in Petaling Jaya, Selangor for her job, felt blessed for being able to wake up everyday knowing that she is alive.
“I never expected myself to experience an MCO due to a pandemic,” the 27-year-old said. “This shows how fragile life is. We should always cherish every person around us as it is not within our ability to decide when people come and go from our lives.
Sharing similar sentiments is 27-year-old Jessica Poon, saying, “This pandemic made me realise that all of us have to stand as one. It’s a blessing to have our family and friends around but during times like this, we just have to practice social distancing in order for this crisis to end soon.
“Also, in the whole duration of MCO, I learned that I’m able to do things that I thought couldn’t, such as honing my culinary prowess,” the Selangor-born public relations executive added.
“My line of work requires me to be out of my house most of the time,” Jessica expressed. “I had doubts about having to stay at home for such a long time but I managed to and I hope everyone can do so too.
“Of course, I would like to applaud Perak for being the state making best progress in fighting against COVID-19 so far,” the Ipoh fan enthused.
29-year-old Ipohite Azeem Lenin opined that as of date, MCO isn’t the worst thing to have happened in his experience. “We may not be able to visit local hangouts or jog at our favourite field but MCO actually gave us more quality time with family members and to be more affectionate with them,” he expressed.
“Luckily, everything is available for my wife and I at home and we planned our daily routines carefully,” he said. “Also, I get to play the viola more often!”
47-year-old Liow Chien Ying observed major changes among Ipohites since the enforcement of MCO.“Since I started work over a fortnight ago, I saw people around being more polite and patient, particularly in queues waiting to buy necessities,” the Ipohite photojournalist noted.
“Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess,” he expressed. “If anything good comes out of the pandemic, it’s that Malaysians’ living habits have improved.
Liow also shared that he started cooking again, which he hasn’t done for years. “During the first few weeks of MCO where I applied for work leave, I spent much more time with my family. Since then, more and more of my parents’ cooking recipes were rediscovered and now, I cook for them almost everyday,” he said.
A 60-year-old retiree who only wished to be known as Lili said that she misses socialising with friends and family, as well as the occasional opportunity to have nice food outside.
Impressed by society’s unity in times of need, she is especially moved by efforts from NGOs who provide food aid to the needy and support to smaller businesses such as those run by farmers and fishermen.
Although the MCO period did not spark much of a creative streak within Lili, it allowed her time to de-stress and cultivate a positive outlook despite the constant flow of distressing news from around the world.
A semi-retired dentist who remained working during the MCO found more opportunities to indulge in reading books, writing poems, and chatting with friends online.
According to her, the experience of being trapped at home for many hours made her sympathize with caged animals. She hopes that more attention could be brought to curbing animal abuse, especially the abuse of strays, in the future.
The MCO period helped her to appreciate her family and realize the value of money as well, as she strives to avoid overspending and only purchasing what is needed from now on.
A 60-year-old full-time tuition teacher and homemaker had planned to decrease lesson hours to go on more vacations and spend more time with friends and family, but the MCO prevented her from doing so.
While she now finds herself engaging in more hobbies like gardening, colouring and taking online lessons, she must also juggle those with online tuition lessons, as well as an increased workload in house chores. She misses eating out and meeting her students.
Another retiree named Anne felt that the MCO gave her more flexibility in her schedule and more time to herself. For instance, she can now do house chores without having to balance them with work hours, exercise in the morning, and has more opportunities to slow down and appreciate nature while bird-watching. She also has had the chance to learn how to do her own palm leaves for Palm Sunday, try new recipes, as well as baking more and planting her own vegetables.
Pleased with how the MCO has been handled by the government so far, she believes that the speedy action and decisions have greatly helped curb the spread of COVID-19 within the country. She observed that since the government is doing their part, so should the people by staying home as much as they can.
Saundarya Ramesh, a 22-year-old student of mass communication (journalism) shared, “I’ve learned to help my mom more in the house. And I’m beginning to understand that this lockdown is beneficial for the earth, as I believe this is the time for it to heal. I’ve found some online classes as I like learning new things and this is the perfect moment to expand your knowledge and enhance your skills. It’s been more than a month since I went beyond 100 metres from my house and I’m starting to miss my friends!”
Celeste Tan, 21, who is majoring in commerce said, “I’m more social than I thought I was. I’ve missed my friends and interacting with strangers in general, even if it’s just a smile or talking about weather. I miss those small interactions and human connections.”
“It may sound naive but I really do hope we learn to be kinder to one another. Appreciate the connections you make with others even if it’s just a small thing. I believe that this pandemic shows that we are in this together, an act of global solidarity and it’s beautiful,” she added.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Kourtney Goh who takes mass communication (advertising) found herself diving back into her hobby of reading and painting which she was not able to do for the past year due to her studies.
She expressed, “I would like to thank the nurses, doctors, volunteers, police, army, employees of companies who are still running to fulfil our basic needs as well as those who are abiding by the MCO. I can only hope that when the MCO is lifted and the cases have subsided that they will be able to rest and reconnect with their family and friends again.”
To be continued in Part 2
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