Visualising pandemic’s end pointless if no game plan


Visualising pandemic’s end pointless if no game plan
By Zan Azlee

It seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, that is what it seems when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the government’s recovery plan from the Covid-19 pandemic early this week. It was as if we could all see the light and we just needed to work towards the goal. Maybe I can use a sports analogy to illustrate my point.

When I used to play basketball in school and university, coaches would always tell us to imagine the end goal of winning a game or a tournament. It’s basically the visualisation of achievement so that you will have the will to achieve it. But this visualisation is always followed up with a game plan. Just visualisation alone doesn’t work.

So if you think about it, really, when the government announced the recovery plan which involves various stages, it was based on actually achieving something first. Each stage is to be executed only after we had achieved something such as a certain reduced number of daily infections or a lower load on nationwide ICUs. 

The recovery plan sounds great. It has made me impatient for September to come. Everything will start opening up (and I can start playing basketball again!) and the promise of an elusive Parliament session has gotten me quite excited. Visualisation has really gotten me worked up and I’ve been thinking about the end of the year so much now.

Then, based on the experience of my old basketball training, I started thinking of the next step I would have to do which is a game plan so that all that visualisation works out. But I didn’t know what the plan was. Is it a lockdown? We’ve had three lockdowns already. The Covid-19 numbers haven’t really gone down.

Will it be another emergency? We did that (still doing it!) and the numbers actually increased many folds during the emergency. Is it by closing the schools? We’ve closed down the schools so many times that my children are probably more familiar with a breakout room than an actual classroom now. So I don’t really know what the plan is anymore.

The government can tell us as many times what they want to do when the infections reduce and when the virus isn’t as rampant anymore. They can promise us that Parliament will reconvene, schools will start again, all industries will be free to operate, all social activities can resume as normal, yada yada yada.

But the point of the matter is, everybody knows that. We know we can do all that once the pandemic is brought under control or, very wishful thinking, is eliminated. What is more important is how the government plans to get there. What are the steps and actions to be taken so that the pandemic can be brought under control?

Blame who?

I would love to be able to provide some solutions. Unfortunately, after 16 months, I really don’t know what to say. But that is not an answer the government can give. The people look towards the leadership to decide and do the right thing for the best of the country. If our leaders had the right plans in place and they were showing results, the people would follow, trust me.

Remember the first lockdown we had in March 2020? It was a full lockdown. Schools were closed. Shopping malls were closed. Every single industry was closed and only essential services were allowed to operate. In fact, there was even a curfew and people needed to be back home at a certain time in the night.

What did Malaysians do? They took it very seriously and they stayed home just like what the government requested them to do. There were results too. We managed to bring down the number of infections to just a few a day (at one point). It felt like a huge nationwide success and we were all so happy that Covid-19 was under control.

Then things went south very fast. Want to put the blame on anyone or any side? What’s the point? The fact of the matter is that we are in a very bad situation now with regard to the pandemic. People are getting tired and pandemic fatigue has definitely set it. I want to appeal to the government to put in place a proper plan.

So far, it seems like everything is just reactive. It feels like we’re living in a two-week to a two-week period not knowing what we’re doing every two weeks. We get confused by all the different rules and regulations during these two-week periods. It changes too often and most of the time, the SOPs are just not clear or understandable.

The only thing that seems to have been picking up is the vaccination programme. Initially, that was looking to be quite a disaster as well. But after so much criticism, the authorities have been taking steps to improve such as increasing the number of vaccination centres, reporting the number of people being vaccinated daily and being transparent about all the initiatives (such as drive-thrus and shopping mall booths) that they are looking at.

Of course, it could still be better. But at least the people can see and recognise the efforts. And since that is the case, the people are supporting the initiatives. Look at how many members of the public are pushing for each other to get vaccinated. We try as best as we can to push the vaccination agenda. It’s a complementary effort between the authorities and the people.

At the end of the day, in times like these, people want clear leadership. We want to have leadership that is assured of what they are doing, making decisions that are for the best of the country and the people, which are transparent, fair and equal. If that happens, I can guarantee the whole country will back the leadership in fighting this pandemic.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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