I recently received a text from a Muslim friend, who told me that this is the second year in a row where she finds herself unable to return to her hometown to meet her mother for Hari Raya. Her text message spoke clearly of her visible longing to “Balik Kampung” to be with her loved ones. So, I did the only thing possible, which was to offer some consolation by telling her to telephone her mom more often and to be patient with the situation.
This, as we find ourselves celebrating another major festivity this year under the new normal and in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. I know it is difficult as a lot of us have not seen family back at our respective hometowns for a long time. However, we need to do our part to help the authorities bring down the number of positive COVID-19 cases.
We cannot afford to be complacent. It brings me no joy to read news reports of how the health system is struggling to cope with the pandemic. They are running out of ICU beds and more and more patients are requiring ventilators.
So, please be strong and patient. Even if you are unable to meet family and friends in person this Hari Raya, I believe your presence is still felt in spirit. The important thing here is that yourself, family members, relatives and friends are safe and healthy. This really trumps any sense of wanting or longing to see loved ones back home.
I would also like to extend my thanks to our frontliners for their service, dedication and commitment to Malaysia and I urge the public to empathize and sympathize with them. They really are facing an uphill task and I believe our compliance to the SOPs serves as their source of strength to keep Malaysia safe.
My message is simple. Please remain vigilant and do not let your guard down in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also like to extend a Selamat Hari Raya to those who are celebrating and happy holidays to all Malaysians.
Yeap Ming Liong