Tuesday, May 17

‘I cannot understand …’


Vaccination is the main weapon against attack by the coronavirus.

I THOUGHT I knew a lot about human behaviour – from the writings of anthropologists and sociologists, as well as from personal contacts and interactions with many people from diverse backgrounds.

Obviously, there’s still a lot more to learn and to understand about human nature.

Much as I have been trying to see the point of view of those people who refuse to observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), I’m unable to rationalise their objection to being tested for the coronavirus and the vaccination. Among some people, there’s the fear of the needles – superstition that would disappear with time and education.

I’m referring to the behaviour of those Malaysian citizens who should know better, but who refuse to abide by the SOP. On Wednesday, Sarawak Health director Datuk Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed was reported to have warned of ‘darker days ahead’ for the state following a record number of cases of Covid-19 (1,566 cases) registered two days earlier, ‘should Sarawakians fail to do their part in stopping the spread of the virus.’

What’s happening?

Repeatedly, the Health authorities and the other members of the medical and health fraternity have been reminding the public about the importance of observing and abiding by the measures, which have been proven to be effective in dealing with the rapid spread of the killer virus.
Repeatedly, people have been told act responsibly:
“NOT to organise or participate in any social gatherings, events or celebrations at the time. “Infected individuals or mildly symptomatic ones may be present.”

Some people have done all these; even restricting the number of relatives to attend prayers for the departed, customs and traditions ignored for the time being.

Yet many people in the state have the false belief that ‘it won’t happen to us!’ — a perplexed human character that, perhaps, only psychologists could explain.

Repeatedly, people have been advised never to be complacent, and to remain vigilant in terms of detecting the symptoms of the virus.

Go fast for testing, and of course, for the vaccination whenever such is available. Yet many people have taken this advice lightly, saying: “Let others do it first.”

I heard some well-known blogger recommending his listeners to take a medicine known to the medical scientists to be poisonous.

How do you explain this most irresponsible publicity? How do you explain this stupidity – freedom of speech abused?

Thousands possessed of common sense have acted out of necessity for their own health, but still many others out there are being indifferent, superstitious or are just being simply incorrigible.

The case of illegal immigrants

Illegal immigrants fear being discovered by the authorities of the country they’re living in. There must be such cases in Sarawak, I have no doubt, but governmental authorities must be able to handle the problem humanely.

Illegal immigrants are deemed to be potential carriers or transmitters of the killer disease. Of course, the authorities want to prevent the spread of the virus among the rest of the community. One never knows with whom these immigrants may have been in physical contact; prevention is much better than cure. Come to that, locals and immigrants alike are potential carriers of the virus!

I do understand the problem in the case of the illegal immigrants working in the plantations and factories. Put in the shoes of any one of them, I would feel the same. A knock at the door may mean an official from the Immigration Department, or from the police. As a refugee or illegal resident, I would be afraid, and try to hide.

But persons with no problem with the law need not worry to open that door – the person outside may be a doctor wanting to test you for the virus and to get you vaccinated soon for your own good and for the good of the rest of the country.

I do understand, however, that every animal, humans being in that category, resents any restriction on movement whenever and wherever one wants to go in order to look for food or medicines. This is allowed under the SOP. Total freedom is being curbed for a certain reasonable time. No, even that temporary restriction is not acceptable to certain people – they should be civic-minded. As members of the community, they should be considerate of the safety of the other members of that community.

Repeated advice by the experts channelled through the various means of communications has fallen on deaf ears. They defy orders or advice of the people who implement measures on the ground. In several countries, they even resort to street protests against the imposition of the measures to combat the spread of the virus. They do not believe in the effectiveness of these measures against the virus.

They resort to taking medicines that are not approved by the appropriate health authorities.

Rare cases, but they did happen.

Hopefully, we Sarawakians would seriously heed the advice – I’d say warning – by the medical authorities to abide by the SOP for our own good.

What about playing our part in stopping the spread of the virus – is it too much to ask?

I have a lot more to learn about and understand human nature all right.

Comments can reach the writer via columnists@theborneopost.com.