Sarawakians in support of MCO extension

Diana Girim and Cynthia Chin

By John Isaac

A NUMBER of Sarawakians interviewed felt the extension of the movement control order (MCO) to April 28 was a necessary move to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Executive Siti Aisyah Ramli, 32, expressed her support for the extension of the MCO, saying that it was a preventive measure in curbing the spread of the virus.

“Though it is an inconvenience for me to work from home, logistically-speaking, compared to working in the office, I will gladly take it compared to the risks of going to work in the office,” she told The Borneo Post today.

She also said everyone would cooperate with the MCO and not put anyone, from babies to the elderly, at risk.

Asked what business sectors she hoped would be allowed to operate during the MCO, she said those sectors were vehicle workshops, hardware shops, electrical and electronic shops, which had been announced by the government last Friday to be allowed to operate.

“I am grateful that these sectors are allowed to operate as it will help those who may face malfunctioning household goods or cars during this MCO,” she said.

For 37-year-old teacher Diana Girim, the extension of the MCO would make it easier to control students who are living in hostels from going out during this uncertain time.

However work-wise, it was more difficult to teach her classes as her students live in rural areas with no mobile coverage, let alone internet coverage.

“In my WhatsApp students group, only 20 out of 110 students responded, so it’s hard to give them their notes and tasks. My Form 5 History class is supposed to have completed Chapter 4 by now, but it’s not possible,” she lamented, adding that she teaches in SMK Balai Ringin and has students who live as far as Simunjan.

She also hoped that the Education Ministry would adjust or change the examination format or just do something to assist those sitting for national examinations such as UPSR, SPM or other examinations.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Chin, 46, who works as a senior project manager, was all for the extension for the MCO, as she opined it would enable the nation’s medical services and health frontliners to cope with the immense number of people expected to be infected, thus effectively flattening the curve.

“That’s why, for the lockdown to be fully effective, we need to ensure that we minimise more new infections from increasing at an exponential rate,” she said, suggesting that the MCO be further extended even until after Gawai to prevent any mass travel for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai festivities as that might have some negative repercussions.

Malcolm Mejin

A 35-year-old author, Malcolm Mejin was in agreement in the importance of flattening the curve of the Covid-19 infection, although he admitted that the MCO’s extension might be a drag for many people.

“The number of deaths during this pandemic are unprecedented, but I do hope that some dining and entertainment outlets such as cinemas can be opened in phases.

“Social distancing would have to be strictly practised by limiting seats and distancing audiences, and those who do not comply will need to be asked to leave,” he said.

He noted that last month in Singapore, cinemas were allowed to operate but each patron needed to have five empty seats in between them.

But precautionary measures should be taken with strict adherence, such as social distancing, using hand sanitisers, taking temperatures and wearing masks, he added.

Alicia Ng

Similarly, 37-year-old senior programme officer Alicia Ng was of the opinion that the MCO was necessary in beating the pandemic.

“As much as I don’t like to stay at home, it is much needed. On the bright side, a lot of people have learnt many new skills from cooking to baking and even gardening or house improvement for minor renovation and painting.

“It is amazing. For those who miss going to the gym, they can do body-weight exercises, running in circles or just dance,” she said, adding that it was important to stay positive during these trying times.

However, she acknowledged that the MCO does affect a lot of people, especially small businesses and people who are paid daily.

“Fortunately, there are government aids, support from charitable organisations and efforts from good Samaritans for the less fortunate communities, which is a way to ease their burden during this difficult time,” she said.

Meanwhile, Charles Liew, 35, chief executive officer, welcomed the extension of the MCO, and felt that it was the right thing to do.

Citing China and South Korea as examples, he said that the implementations of lockdowns in these countries were remarkable, as compared to the relatively casual implementation here in Malaysia.

“China and South Korea are now past the worst, and are recovering in an incredible speed.

“In order for Malaysia to follow suit, not only may we require even further extensions past April 28, I also feel stricter enforcement of movement control is warranted. If people keep on going out with the excuse that they are attending to “essential” matters, the recovery process will be a long and winding one,” he said.

On the sectors he hope to be allowed to operate, he believes that it is better to keep as little sectors or shops open as possible because the sooner the government are able to control the virus spread in Sarawak, the sooner all businesses can operate.

“If we slowly allow more and more sectors to operate, that inevitably means more people would be coming out for these services, resulting in a situation completely not in tune with the spirit of the MCO, which is to stay indoors. If the curve takes longer to flatten, we may be in this for way longer than we anticipate, which would end up hurting businesses even more than allowing some to open now,” he said.