Langkawi — the parliamentary constituency of PM4/7/d̶i̶c̶t̶a̶t̶o̶r̶-̶f̶o̶r̶-̶l̶i̶f̶e̶ Dr Mahathir Mohamad and home of duty-free erm, chocolates — is open for business.
To be honest, we don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. After close to 2 years of going in and out of lockdowns due to seesawing Covid-19 infection rates and scary new variants emerging faster than Malaysia can change prime ministers, the idea of resuming travel, and facing full flights and a sea of strangers can be daunting.
After all, while some 94% of Langkawi folks may be double-jabbed, we’re just past the halfway point nationwide; only 55% folks having received both Covid vaccine doses.
But it all seems kinda fast. Not even a day after Langkawi opened shop for desperate-to-break-free domestic travellers, ex-PM-now-National Recovery Council supremo Mahiaddin Yassin announced plans to maybe open up the island to foreign tourists – the Pangkor travel bubble, to begin in November, was unveiled shortly after.
We get it. Our battered economy and our collective deteriorating mental health need recouping. Tl;dr, we could all use a little vitamin $un, $ea and $ea breeze. Plus, our tourism industry could sure use the RM288 mil in pocket change it’s expecting to earn from now till year-end.
But if we’re going to do something as important as opening up sections of the country to tourists, surely we could plan it better? Clearly not, judging by the whole last minute inter-ministry crossing of wires that resulted in the 24-hour no-need Covid testing–need Covid testing U-turn!
Listen, government folks, we get that you gotta seriously bin a lotta rules if you’re gonna be Marie Kondo-ing the almost 200 Covid SOPs down to 10 golden rules, but no testing? Haven’t you Putrajaya folks learnt anything from the ‘triggering of 3rd wave’ Sabah polls last year?
It’s a good thing common sense prevailed in the end. Already, 5 positive (meaning infected, not optimistic) folks have been stopped from entering the island on day #1 alone, thanks to mandated pre-holiday testing.
But the testing bungle aside, the success (or not) of the Langkawi travel bubble and the prevention of Langkawi clusters would depend largely on you!
Come on, folks! We’ve been through what, 3? 4? lockdowns of various alphabet pre-fixes?
Yet the moment the gomen lifts any sanction, thousands go charging in, all but forgetting SOPs, Covid, Delta strain, etc.
Take the case of the crowds of beachgoers at Pantai Remis in Kuala Selangor. Or how ‘bout the unscrupulous clinics issuing fake vaccine certs for Covidiot anti-vaxxers who try to hack the system, putting the rest of us at risk?
This is why we can’t have pretty things. We end up breaking it. The last thing we want is for our newfound freedoms to be revoked. Or worse, for another lockdown to be announced.
While it’s hard to keep track of which phase we’re in, which sports activities are allowed or how many people are allowed in a room at any one time (hence the need to simplify the SOPs), some Covid prevention rules are immutable.
Mask up (double up if you can), wash and sanitise your hands frequently, social distance, and test, test, test! We really don’t need a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office or a live televised address by the Health DG to tell us this.
Artist of the Month
Faizati Mohd Ali
Faizati is a lawyer by day and artist all the time. She’s been drawing since her teens, and her work has appeared in magazines like Gila-Gila and Gelihati. These days, she takes inspiration from her 13 cats and issues she feels strongly about, such as gender inequality, social injustice and discrimination. See more about her here.