Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives. In 2019, we did not know that was the final year that we could do events involving hundreds or thousands of people, such as concerts, sports competitions, weddings and more. Things that we used to do can no longer be done now for about two years. In some cases, some of the things we used to do may be gone forever. We hope things will get better quickly.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit us hard. Two years of this pandemic have caused an enormous impact on our economy and our mental state. The country going on lockdown back and forth, with schools opened only for a few months in the space of two years and businesses either merely surviving or closed down. After all, we should be proud of ourselves that we persevere to this date. Although the cases are still in five figures, we hope to break in the clouds by quarter four of 2021 or perhaps quarter one of 2022.
Even though we see a silver lining regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, a more significant threat to the country remains unsolved. The biggest menace to our nation has been with us for too long – too many people with self-centered characteristics. I know that human is complex and you cannot eliminate this characteristic. The issue we are facing now is that we have many people with self-centered traits, especially those who are running the country.
Our country was fortunate to have notable leaders such as Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Dr. Ismail back in those days. They are true statesmen where they always fight for the benefits of the rakyat, not for themselves. Their selfless characteristics are admirable that differentiate leaders back then from those who are in power now. In September 2020, the politicians were so obsessed with power that they ‘had’ to organise a Sabah election despite fighting hard with the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of admitting it’s their fault that caused a surge of Covid-19 cases post-election, they blamed it on rakyat, stating that Malaysian citizens were not adhering to SOP. However, few months after that, our prime minister back then admitted that the third wave of Covid-19 was from the election. Despite the confession from the prime minister at that time, it was too late.
In the past, the chosen ministers dedicated their lives to help the country grow. It is a different scenario to the current politicians who only want the roles to benefit their pockets. For instance, ministers in Malaysia are lucky to bring home RM178,000 salary per year, twelve times more than the RM14,400 minimum yearly salary set by the government for the rakyat. Whereas in developed countries like the United Kingdom, ministers only acquire GBP79,754 per year, which is only five times higher than the minimum wage of their people, GBP17,077. On top of these exorbitant salaries, corruption and kleptocracy amongst ministers remain high, which is unfair to many rakyats struggling to earn a living, especially during this pandemic.
When we, as rakyat, decided to take matters into our own hands by organising the white flag movement, there was some resistance from the leaders in the northern states. A chief minister from the north criticised the white flag initiative as a form of political propaganda aimed at tarnishing the good work of the federal government. A mufti from another northern state stated that he disagreed with the campaign, reflecting an attitude of despair. We as rakyat should ask them why they or state agencies couldn’t identify the need for such a movement to help those in need? The answer is straightforward: they do not care, especially on things that do not benefit them.
The covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on us in the past two years. As the vaccination program has achieved 22 million of our country’s population for at least one dose, we should soon see a break in the clouds. However, the lack of selfless leaders in our country remains our most significant problem that has yet to be solved. Quoting from the late Tun Dr. Ismail, which is popularly known as ‘The best Prime Minister Malaysia never had’ – “I will do for my country what I will not do for myself or my family.” If only our present politicians were like him, Malaysia could become a different nation. A more prosperous country than we are now.
Arif Dzulkifli is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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