By Mei Kuan and Gisele Soo
Ipoh Echo spoke to Perakeans from various walks of life who shared their thoughts on the earlier movement control orders and the recent Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan (PPN) implemented by the government.
Wei Kee, a sales manager of the stainless steel industry based in Perak, praised the government for doing a great job in bringing down the COVID-19 cases from three digits to single digits during the first MCO. It did not affect him or his family other than just having to stay at home. However, he personally believes many things should be taken into consideration if we want to see change.
“The streets are filled with people, cases are rapidly spiking and I am staying home for nothing. It’s not very helpful and I’m sure me and my family are going to have to stay home for another month at least.
Wei Kee, who is also a father of three, added, “My daughter who’s studying in KL had to come back and attend online classes due to the current situation. The lockdown is affecting students as they are not allowed to freely utilise their critical thinking abilities. At the same time, they will also miss out on experiential learning opportunities since they can only do it virtually now.”
Commenting on the speed of vaccination of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), he said it is slow and ineffective. “My wife literally had to call them for more than half an hour for them to answer the call to reschedule an appointment for my parents.
“Plus, I haven’t gotten my appointment yet,” the 51-year-old sighed.
“I don’t think there’s much difference shifting to the next Phase of the NRP as I’m still waiting for the company’s order to go to work,” he said.
Jason Chai Wai Foong, proprietor of Makan Nyonya Café in Ipoh, observed a very encouraging compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) among Ipohites: “People are checking in, taking temperature and practising physical distancing when getting their takeaway food. No one would linger. As a provider, we feel safer too.”
According to him, the impact of the earlier movement control orders on his local business was major: “Business dropped . For instance, our usual capacity was 60 pax at any one time. During FMCO, it was only 4 pax at any one time for takeaway. We did benefit when dining in with 2 per table was allowed as customers took turns to dine in—however it had fallen to just 16 pax at any one time. That was a great plunge! Thankfully, we are still surviving via takeaway and food delivery platforms.”
“Looking at the current situation, we are way behind to move to the second phase of the PPN as a whole country. This is due to the slow achievement of herd immunity via vaccination for all,” Jason told Ipoh Echo.
“Aid programmes are good for any non-contract employment with a valid registered business, yet it doesn’t cover employment under contract basis and daily wages employment, the categories which suffer most. They have no work or less jobs and no or low income. It includes promoters, hawkers, bricks layers, grass cutters and more,” he highlighted.
One of the initiatives of Makan Nyonya Cafe in reaching out to the community during the pandemic is the provision of food and necessities to the needy on a no-questions-asked basis since November 2020. He gets the word out via social media platforms with the hope that more people will benefit from it.
“We are doing it within our neighbouring community, even before the pandemic. No questions asked, no forms to fill, no obligation and none of us will take your picture to be posted. On a daily basis, we have nearby single parents with children and construction workers coming to us. They are in bad shape as most depend on daily wages. Since they cannot start work, they have zero income,” he shared.
As Perak enters the Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan effective July 5, he expressed, “More manufacturing sectors open, meaning there will be an increase in the manufacturing workforce. That’s a good sign for us, as a large sum of our daily peak sales came from 6am till 9am. We are optimistic from the point of view of sales.”
Twenty-six-year-old Ipohite, Sammy, who is currently pursuing a Diploma in Heritage Cuisine at BERJAYA University College in Kuala Lumpur said the current positive infection rate is very disappointing. “I’m worried that the lockdown won’t be lifted until the third quarter of the year in KL. There are still so many cars on the road and people are going out. I understand the government is trying their best but perhaps, they should take another look at their management of the pandemic?
“I wish I could go back to physical classes because my course requires mostly hands-on work. Online classes are very distracting too.
“The aid programmes are definitely not sufficient. But then again, it’s still better than nothing. I just hope the people really receive the help they so urgently need and that the government is answering their distress call. It’s so sad when the money offered by the government falls into the wrong hands,” she added.
A 60-year-old retiree living in Ipoh Garden recalled, “When Ipoh was placed under EMCO, only one representative from each house was allowed to leave home to purchase necessities at grocery shops within the EMCO area. I could not drive, thus it caused an inconvenience for me at the time.”
“The implemented SOPs are reasonable. However, many still flout the rules. For example, we see many wearing slipped masks covering just their mouths,” he stated.
Having just completed both doses of the vaccine, he shared his experience, “It was done quickly while the staff and volunteers were friendly and helpful. My second dose was done via drive-thru which allowed me to avoid crowding and minimise contact.”
“I hope we can enter the next phase of the PPN as soon as possible. It is reported in the international news that some countries have already lifted their mask mandates,” he said, adding that he can finally get a basic haircut now that Perak enters Phase 2 of the PPN.