It has been more than a week (almost two weeks) since I posted anything, I simply did not have the will nor the effort to do so even the Malaysian government has imposed a Movement Control Order (MCO) from 18 March 2020 to 14 April 2020. Now, I want to share how I felt and experienced this MCO until now.

How did we get here?

Pre-panic Era

The first few cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia were detected during the end of January and the pandemic was still on the rise globally with somewhat insignificant effect, at least to me and the people around me. I boldly assumed that the virus would not be as serious as it was projected globally on social media and news outlets because Malaysia’s population density is quite low and my immune system is quite okay.

In addition, at that point in time, I was still in Johor studying which was one of the most prone areas to the virus as it was right beside Singapore. The cases during that time at Singapore was at a high and yet I still did not fret, at all, not a single shed of fear. I went to my classes without mask and sanitiser. Plus, I even convinced myself this virus is just another strain of flu. The assumptions that I had made until that time was so wrong and yet I still went with it.

On the other hand, the previous government was doing a good job at handling the first wave of the pandemic, keeping the cases as low as possible and the growth rate of the cases was also kept at bay. They did a good job. It did not look or feel like a pandemic, at all- at least to me.

Big shout-out to Dr. Dzukefly Ahmad and his team at containing the first wave of virus.

Life was normal. Until these happened.

Political Fiasco

From 21 February to 4 March 2020 went down the annals of Malaysia as one of the messiest period.

You can read this if you want to know more about it:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Malaysian_political_crisis#21_February

After for the change in government, the fear in voicing out my opinions boldly (freedom of speech) had come back with a somewhat familiar feeling. Personally, I felt threaten to speak my mind as the people who supported the ‘new’ government and the people running it had left bad impressions to me in the past. (I do not want to go into a rant in this so I will just keep it at this)

It is the mindset that they have that I disliked.

I will give you an oversimplified version of what has happened:

Tun Mahathir (7th Prime Minister) resigned after certain members of his party ‘turned their backs’ on him to form a new government.

In my opinion, (just an opinion, do not arrest me, please.) I feel like those people running the government now, under the 8th Prime Minister- Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin- are nothing more than just disillusioned power-hungry money-grabbing politicians. (NOTE THAT THIS IS JUST AN OPINION)

Sigh

I do not want to delve into my complaints anymore. The same inferiority and fear from the past is haunting me at the back of mind. I have to stop talking shit.

Back to reality.

Realistically, this political fiasco might have caused the sudden spike in the cases. My point is no matter which new government that just run the country for a few days knows thoroughly the system that was left behind by the previous government and have full control over the people working under them. There must be a shuffle in the government, different people; there must also have shortcomings in making the respective departments work effectively, different government. Thus a more sluggish effort was taken to tackle the cases.

Tabligh

There were over 16,000 people gathering at Sri Petalling for certain religious event at the start of March. Here is the more detailed report about it: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/574484/14500-msians-tabligh-gathering-40-test-positive-covid-19

At the beginning of March was the rise of the second wave of the virus, even the WHO made efforts to tell people to have social distancing and stop gathering in masses, but there were these people who were ignorant about it.

They were not immediately quarantined and were given opportunities to get back to their respective homes. No actions were taken by the ‘new’ government at this point in time as they were busy distributing their ‘new fortune’ that was conveniently taken by them.

Here comes the spike and the sloppiness in executing MCO.

Movement Control Order was announced by the 8th PM on 16th March 2020 that everyone to stay at home from 18th to 31st March (14-day MCO) as the ‘new’ government just realised that the cases from the tabligh were spreading like wildfire.

Here is the full article, quite long: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/16/malaysia-announces-restricted-movement-measure-after-spike-in-covid-19-cases
(the 8th PM wasted too much time on rather unimportant points, I just summarized his speech in a few lines above.)

As a fellow human, I felt the fear this time, the severity of the virus and had the urge to socially distance myself from the people around me. To be honest, the universities nationwide, mine included, gave delayed messages and some contradicting messages to the students, leaving us in a midst of confusion and panic.

Here is one where they encouraged us to go back before the MCO has been implemented (this was circulated between collages) and they also mentioned about locking down the university during the MCO period:

PHOTO-2020-03-17-12-28-04

And to make things worse, there was word circulating in my university hinting that there were already staffs who had the virus during this period of time.

Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 9.12.28 PM

I was utterly confused and panicky. What in the actual fuck is happening? How is it that difficult to make a true statement based on facts? I do not see the need to cover this up. We are facing this together as a country, as a world. Please, do not hide your cases or symptoms during this outbreak, especially during the start of it, these acts are simply foolish and selfish, think about other people also. At this point in time, I had partially lost trust in the information provided by certain bodies.

At 17th March, one of our lecturers still carried out the lecture as usual whereas most of the other lecturers knew the severity of the virus and cancelled their classes immediately or moved them online. I did not attend the lecture, I am not stupid and I care about social distancing. The best time to stop the spread of virus is during the beginning of it. I am just being a responsible person.

A dilemma hit me in the afternoon about whether or not to go home. At this time, I only had the announcement about encouraging us to go back so I just went along with the notice. I grabbed along few of my other friends and went back home.

Luckily I made the right choice, everything went spiralling downhill after then.

On the same day, the police announced that they will start blocking people from crossing states in the midnight- people must register at their nearest police station first before crossing states. It was around 6 or 7 pm when it was announced.

Everyone panicked. It was a mess where people gathered:

PHOTO-2020-03-17-18-40-26
Announce by the head of police force to restrict state crossing on 17th March 2020.
PHOTO-2020-03-17-23-00-33
Malaysians lining up to get their permission to cross states after the announcement.
TBS-CROWD-PEOPLE-COVID19-02
Malaysians lining up to catch the bus before midnight.

I managed to get home before they scratched the crossing states restriction. They did not have time to prep for it and did not know one announcement literally threw everybody into panic mode.

I want to emphasize once more. It was a fucking mess.

Mass gatherings were happening here and there during this peak of the outbreak. Well played, nice move by our 8th PM in delivering and executing this.

Entertainers/ Comedians/ Politicians

During this peak period of the pandemic happening in Malaysia, the politicians of the ‘new’ government made some ‘laughable’ (filled with sarcasm, more like idiotic) moves/statements the riled up even more the current situation.

  1. A tweet by a deputy minister 
    For the full article: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/03/16/deputy-minister-closes-twitter-account-after-uproar-over-covid-19-post/
    The tweet went like this: The likelihood of dying from the Coronavirus is only 1%, while the possibility of dying at any moment is 100%.
    Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 9.42.40 PM
  2. Re-opening the topic on child marriage. 
    For the full article: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/513990
    In summary, another minister from the ‘new’ government want to continue making child marriage legal in Malaysia and also stated that Child Marriage is a blessing. Come on, people are busy dealing with the virus and you rather spend this time on this? You can be better than this.
  3. Drinking warm water kills the Coronavirus.
    For the full article: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/20/health-minister039s-039warm-water-method039-to-kill-coronavirus-questioned
    This was said by our Health Minister. Applause.

These were 3 of the many things that piqued my interest during these trying times.

MCO Extended

For the first few days of MCO, both the government and the people were not taking things as seriously as it should be. People still moved around and gathering. The government was still catching up to speed unto what was happening and slow at deploying people into the field to prevent these gatherings from happening.

Cases were skyrocketing, (and still is now)

Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 8.16.21 PM

People started to take things more seriously after a week or so. So as the government, day 5 only deployed the army to help the MCO; day 8 only gave money to the health ministry to purchase medical support; day 10 only announced financial help to the people. Well done! Really good job! Give a pat at the back to yourselves.

These were the messages sent by SMS by the government to the people. What a time we are living in.

Since the cases are still on the rise, the 8th PM announced an extra 14 days to the MCO, making it end by 14th April 2020. One whole month of staying at home. #stayathome

At this point in time, I do not know what to say or how to react with the situation. I will just go with the flow and continue with life as usual.

Masks, Hand Sanitisers and Food.

Even before the MCO, masks were sold out throughout the country but surprisingly hand sanitisers were still available. However, the price of masks and hand sanitisers skyrocketed drastically. (From RM0.20 per mask to RM2 per mask) There was a late implementation of price-caps by the government and a poor enforcement of it, making them expensive.

After MCO was being announced, people rushed to purchase food items in their local supermarkets. Here is one of them:

PHOTO-2020-03-16-20-29-17.jpg
People rushing to stock-up food items and essentials before MCO.

Daily essentials could not keep up production after a few days into MCO. And yet, the government ensured us that there is going to be enough food for us to last for a month or two. But, it contradicted with what is actually happening.

Going Online

Apart from affecting our daily lives, even the education sphere is affected too. Exams are cancelled or delayed and classes are shifted online. Speaking from my thoughts, about my university, we are going online too, including the lab, tests and also finals. Wow! Great job in following the footsteps of other more equipped universities!

Let me ask a few practical questions:

  1. How legitimate the tests and finals will be?
  2. How can hundreds of students sit for a test at the same time?
  3. How are lab classes going to be carried out?

As far as I know, our e-learning system is more or less like a rusty website from the early 2010s, probably made by shitty interns. To put it nicely, the website is basic and have limited usage. A considerable number of our lecturers do not or rarely carry out online classes. I still cannot think of a feasible system for online finals and tests. This is just absurd.

Here are two files as to help us resolve our main concerns:
Kenyataan Pej TNCAA-BM
UTM FAQ PdP 27032020.pdf

Looking at the bright side, we get to try out new stuffs and probably the management team will realise the importance of getting the online portals ready to use in cases of emergency for this period only. All roses have thorns, and I feel like the thorns on this rose is more than the previous ones.

One more thing, based on the announcements given by my university, I should be having online classes starting from 1 April 2020, but the government said the universities only can start earliest by 27th April 2020 and the latest by 1st June 2020. Here is the official announcement:

PHOTO-2020-03-28-17-01-02PHOTO-2020-03-28-17-01-04

This is, a mess.

What did I do for these few days?

For the first week of MCO, I focused on a game (King Of Glory), I literally spent more than 8 hours gaming for each day for the week. I guess it was just a purge after months of not touching any games.

For the second week of MCO, I hosted online classes / discussion rooms with my friends, helping them out on the syllabus if they felt left out during the classes. It felt good and invigorating to teach once again, the best part is that they understood what I was teaching (Yay!) and they stayed through with me until this day (for 7 consecutive days!) I did two 2-hour sessions per day covering all the Mathematics syllabus that we are supposed to know for this semester.

This is refreshing. My passion for teaching has yet to die, it burns even brighter in this season.

Every night, except for Sunday nights, I met up with my cell via Zoom for prayer sessions and reading God’s word. I feel like these are the only things that I can do to help alleviate the pandemic at hand. At helpless times like this, God is still there. I believe that God will answer our prayers and eradicate COVID-19 from the face of Earth.

I cooked for most of the days, breakfast and dinner. I did Maths. I lazed around watching Youtube, procrastinating on this post. And I watched more Youtube and scrolled more Instagram than I had ever done. It had been always like that. I did not know when it started.

But, during this MCO, I am facing the demons of the algorithm head-on, battling them valiantly. My sleep pattern was also in a freestyle, I could not sleep at night and felt tired in the afternoon.

I just hope that this will end soon. Hope our world and humanity would be restored and healed.

No more toxicity and complaining about the situation. Think positively and pray and hope for healing to rain upon humanity and the world.

P.S. Here is what the 8th PM tweeted about:

Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 10.55.38 PM

We are a nation at war with invisible forces. The situation we are now facing is unprecedented in history. And this government may not be the government that you voted for. But I want you to know that this government cares for you.

Translation to BM:

Kami adalah sebuah negara yang sedang berperang dengan kekuatan yang tidak kelihatan. Keadaan yang kita hadapi sekarang tidak pernah berlaku dalam sejarah. Dan kerajaan ini mungkin bukan kerajaan yang anda pilih. Tetapi saya ingin anda tahu bahawa kerajaan ini mengambil berat tentang anda.

– Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (8th Prime Minister of Malaysia)

P.P.S A big shoutout to the frontliners and Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for battling the virus. Thank you! Much love and prayers!

Shalom!

Hope. Joy.. Feelings cloaked as words.

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