Given the twist of unexpected crises – both political and in terms of the pandemic that has struck a nasty chord of fear globally and locally – what lies ahead and what can be done?
We have just crossed the second quarter of this year and nothing can be worse than what we have all already experienced in the first few months of 2020. Not long ago, we were just watching the US-China Trade AWar from the sidelines and the overstretched protest that happened in Hong Kong. How fast things have changed when both of these events were silenced just before the Lunar New Year as the world was caught unprepared with the spread of the Covid-19 virus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China.
Eventually, as we know it by now, this has become a pandemic across the world and brought the whole global economy to its knees. Malaysia is not spared from the reeling effects of the aftermath either, especially since its ruling Government of 22 months was abruptly replaced with a new Government – after a month into the lockdown in China. While parties from both sides of the divide fought it out, the rakyat could only watch in horror as the nation was grappled with an unprecedented political impasse for almost a week. The Movement Control Order (MCO) was also extended another two weeks after the initial MCO stretching from March 18 – 31, 2020.
As the new cabinet was sworn in, they were taken to task to handle drastic measures to contain and curb the epidemic that had already seeped across international borders and also on localshores. Before long, Malaysia was partially in lockdown from March 18, 2020, with the invoking of the Restrictive Movement Control Order (RMCO) for a duration of two weeks. Commercial (Hotels, Retail Malls, Shoplots, Offices) and Industrial sectors (Warehouses, Factories) were hit by a devastating perfect storm that has affected many industries on the local front. Firstly, the economy was badly hit in terms of the aviation and tourism sector. The hotel and short stay industry already felt the impact since January when many rooms were cancelled as Chinese tourists form a majority of tourist arrivals here. Then, insult to injury was made worst when most hoteliers faced a nightmare with Malaysia’s move to ban tourists from countries which were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic from coming over. The last straw came when the country went into partial lockdown resulting also in the barring of all foreign travellers including neighbouring Singapore into the country!