When a virus shows us our true faces

Hard times bring out the worst, and best, in people and the Covid-19 pandemic is certainly no exception.

I've witnessed crazy lines at the supermarket and empty toilet paper shelves; overheard people co-ordinate toilet paper bulk buys on the phone and scour pharmacies for hand sanitiser.

The world has gone mad, truly, but in a way it is also a test — not in the Biblical sense but a good demonstration of the efficiency of a government in crisis and the reliability of friends and family.

It will be interesting to see how the handling of the Covid-19 situation will be viewed in retrospect.

No government expects a trial by fire so soon after its inception and frankly, the current situation seems to warrant a future Department of Information that is non-partisan with no political involvement.

In a crisis like the one we're living in, citizens need information more than ever.

However, we have barely settled after a political upheaval and while the civil servants do the best they can, it is more crucial than ever for citizens to be informed of government directives.
Hotlines just do not cut it in the information age.

What is also disappointing is how the current administration no longer puts out English language versions of press statements or speeches at the same time as the official one in the national language.

By Erna Mahyuni

One foreign paper declared Malaysia had gone into full lockdown, even if it is just a restriction of movement order. Misreporting that could have been avoided if an English statement had been released early.

As to how Malaysians are handling the crisis, I hope that they remain calm and not get caught up in undue panic.

Having to admonish many of my contacts for also mislabeling the current movement restriction as a lockdown has been tiresome and tiring.

There is a big difference between the Wuhan lockdown where private cars had been locked down, public transport stopped and roads closed with strict enforcement and our situation.

I laughed when I heard someone tell me of friends who stockpiled grass-fed beef but I was less amused, perplexed even, to discover my nearest bougie supermarket was out of Norwegian salmon and Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.

How strange, the things some of us hoard in times of uncertainty.

Perhaps I should be thankful. My friends have remained steadfast and kind, while my parents have only sent me two alarmist WhatsApp messages between them.

The coming two weeks will reveal much about ourselves, about each other and might even give us a clue about how things are going to end up when the next election comes around.

I just hope in the meantime Malaysians will stop hoarding toilet paper
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