Since March 18, Malaysians have woken up to the Movement Control Order (MCO) - a “new normal” - due to the COVID-19 pandemic which took the world by surprise.
Life has not been the same since, with everyone trying to adapt to the new situation, especially to keep making ends meet.
For us in the academic fraternity, life under the MCO has not been that bad as we manage to sail through by fully adopting to online media.
Meetings and lectures are now being conducted non-face-to-face (NF2F) using the available online technology, in other words online learning and work.
Going online for teaching and work
Thanks to the Internet and, of course, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan for conducting online workshops to get us to take-off smoothly in our new journey to purely online teaching and work.
In fact, I can say that within these past weeks, lecturers have become acclimatised to using online applications in conducting meetings and lectures and it has served as a blessing in disguise for most of us, as we have been able to master at least one or two applications to use for online meetings and lectures.
I, for one, have been using the WhatsApp Web to conduct my lectures, since some of the students have limited access to Internet and it works like magic, and my students so far are happy. It enables me to use voice in a form of audio and GIF, which I derived from converting my PowerPoint presentation.
Easing of MCO to avoid economic losses
Presently, with the conditional easing of the MCO to allow for some normalcy, the SOPs agreed upon should be adhered to by all stakeholders. Some people think that easing of the MCO is tantamount to lifting of the lockdown, thereby making them go back to their pre-MCO way of life.
The easing of the MCO is not a yardstick to be mask-free or going into crowded places without any precautionary measures stipulated by the authorities concerned. Coupled with the downward trend in reported COVID-19 new cases, the easing is part of measures to cushion the effects on businesses which need to operate or else they will be hard hit. Likewise, workers in the manufacturing and services sectors of the economy need to work to make ends meet. It’s a measure to avoid heavy economic losses.
Take the analogy of an airplane. In order to land safely it has to gradually descend in a calculated manner. It doesn’t just hit the ground, right? Similarly my understanding of the conditional MCO is to slowly return to normalcy. It’s a “soft landing” approach taken by the government with inputs from various stakeholders. It is not a total lifting of the lockdown. That’s why each and every one of us must be responsible for ourselves and families. I, for one, will continue wearing a mask and follow all the precautionary measures, especially if I have to go outdoors.
Fight against COVID-19 still on
Hence, we are still in the “new normal”. The fight against COVID-19 is not over yet.
Let us all be patient and cooperate with the authorities by continuing living life in the new normal. It will be sad to lose all the gains we have made over the past weeks. The warning of a possible return to lockdown is imminent if measures taken so far are abandoned.
Malaysia has joined other countries in easing the lockdown. However, Malaysia’s move is very “calculated and conditional” as it is not a total lifting of the lockdown. In fact, as more and more countries consider how to ease the so-called lockdown restrictions, World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the exit measures should be introduced extremely carefully.
Dr Ali Salman is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Language Studies and Generic Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan.