NST Leader: The Road to Normalcy

The start of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP) has signalled the beginning of a gradual return to some form of normalcy.

It will be a long, arduous road that may take up to somewhere around the middle of next year, or as early as the end of this year, as Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister-in-charge of all things vaccination-related, hopes.

As it is, things have begun to ease as far as standard operating procedures (SOP) are concerned. On Thursday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the relaxation of some SOP. Such relaxations are linked to the fact that our daily infection numbers are on a downward trend.

On Thursday, too, Malaysia saw 1,924 infections, a drop from the 3,545 cases registered on Wednesday. More than 2,000 cases had been recorded consistently since Jan 5.

Hopefully, the numbers will continue to decline in the coming days as the NIP progresses. And with that, more easing of the SOP can be expected. One big question on everyone’s minds, perhaps, is when our elected representatives will be allowed to convene again, be they in Parliament or the state assemblies.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has already clarified that Parliament can meet during the Emergency. This will happen at a suitable time, as deemed fit by the king, under the advisement of the prime minister. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has repeatedly said Parliament will convene, so we will have to wait and see when this will be. Considering elected representatives will be among the first to be vaccinated, it is only a matter of time.

After that, as Muhyiddin has repeated often, he plans to return the mandate to the people, meaning, Parliament will be dissolved and a general election called.

The question, then, is when all this will come about. The success of the NIP will be one factor, perhaps the most important of all. Other factors are the daily Covid-19 infection numbers, our infectivity rate and, importantly, the advice of medical experts.

Until we bring those numbers down, for instance, it would be unwise to hold elections or even go back to anywhere near where we were pre-pandemic.

For now, we have to remember that our job is to maintain the SOP, and the healthy habits we have picked up since Covid-19 began. We have been doing well so far, except for small groups of stubborn individuals.

The government recognises that such groups exist and it is this that has led it to enact harsher penalties for SOP violators. Beginning March 11, the maximum fine for violations will be RM10,000, a tenfold increase.

Certainly, this will help encourage almost everyone to toe the line. It may seem harsh, especially since we have, most of us, been hit financially by the pandemic.

But, one, it is for the good of the entire nation and two, the amount of the fine will not matter if we do not violate any SOP.

The only caveat is that the law is applied fairly to all, prince or pauper.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2021/02/669410/nst-leader-road-normalcy

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