Is the CMCO just Covid theatre?

Erna Mahyuni
·3-min read
Erna Mahyuni
Erna Mahyuni

DECEMBER 30 ― The conditional movement control order (CMCO) has been extended in most states in Malaysia and I'm struggling to answer the question: what difference does it make?

Malls are full. Highways are packed. It feels like the days before the original movement control order (MCO) and it terrifies me.

It's been shown that temperature scanners are useless in detecting asymptomatic carriers and yet we still have them everywhere.

That's how ineffective I find the current very lax CMCO stipulations. If you can still travel wherever you want, keep restaurants crowded, and do not encourage working from home, how is the CMCO making any kind of difference?

Don't get me wrong, I did not enjoy the MCO at all. The silence and having no one but my dog for company for weeks is not an experience I would like to repeat.

But if that is what it takes to flatten the curve, I would probably do it again.

It will take a very long time for the vaccines to get to Malaysia and I'm sorry, person reading my column, the odds are very low that you will be among the first to get it.

With our prime minister volunteering to be first, I am sure his entire Cabinet are all lined up behind him in solidarity.

Just like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's security team who were vaccinated in a country where no vaccine has yet been officially approved for use.

A statement from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) stated: “The PSG administered Covid-19 vaccine to its personnel performing close-in security operations to the President.”

Besides the vague reassurances, with no measure of what “success” is supposed to be, that the CMCO has successfully kept the virus in check, there is also the matter of the transparency of the vaccine schedule.

Singapore already has a schedule as well as clear guidelines about who is getting the jab first, which in this case is health workers.

Malaysia being Malaysia, I am disturbed that there are no assurances that politicians will not be prioritised over health workers.

I strongly believe frontliners, including the sanitation workers at hospitals, should be vaccinated first as they face the highest risk of infection.

Our politicians are not high-risk or at least they would be low-risk if they learned to use Zoom instead of staging photo opps at Putrajaya.

On that note, someone please remind Senator Ras Adiba Radzi that having meetings at Putrajaya in crowded rooms with not a mask in sight isn't exactly good for public relations.

Someone should also tell the government to not so blithely announce plans to open up for tourism right when cases are spiking around the world.

The feeling I'm getting is that whatever Covid measures in place now is merely about going through the motions, killing time and probably people, while we wait for the vaccine to arrive.

While the vaccine will offer some relief, it is not a magic pill that will fix the pandemic overnight.

It is going to be a long slog and whatever gains we made will be erased if we keep up with the self-delusion that it is OK to act as though we can start living our lives the way we used to.

In the meantime, keep your masks on, wash your hands and maybe consider that small intimate gatherings at home for New Year's Eve are a lot more pleasant than spending next year in an ICU.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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