Life with Rona — Day 1

I toyed with writing a “live journal” about this interesting time, and a friend mentioned the name, Life with Rona, so that’s how it got its name.

We are under a Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia. Some call it a Movement Restriction Order (MRO). This is to last for 14 days, and you are told that you can only go out of your homes for essential activities.

As of today, hotels are now included in the list of essential services, but just last night I spoke to a handful of hoteliers who were planning to shutdown as soon as their last guest checked out.

We are living in a time of very poor communications. On Monday, 16 March 2020, we were told about this MCO, but told it was not a lockdown. We were given just a little over 24 hours to escape the nation if we needed to. I had a friend and his family head to the airport yesterday to be on standby, get on a plane, and also some of his family cleared immigration and waited for the next flight. Imagine just waiting for your next flight at the KLIA departure lounge (I believe they were at the Plaza Premium Lounge, which isn’t the worst place to be; could have been a very crowded departure gate).

Malaysians have probably last faced something similar after the May 13 1969 riots. No one of my generation knows what a MCO/MRO/lockdown feels like. And with such poor announcements and lack of trust in the government of the day, it would seem that things are not as rosy.

I for one think lockdowns are not sensible, and we just need to increase testing. Lockdowns harm the economy, no one seems to be thinking of that. Whatever the administration has promised is paltry to whatever losses are going to amount to. It is ironic that on Twitter, we see “Lockdown Malaysia” as a trend, which goes to show how a lot of my fellow Malaysians lack systems thinking; lockdown long enough and they’ll have so much free time on their hands but no ability to pay their Internet bills to tweet.

Just yesterday I saw that Powells in Portland, Oregon laid off hundreds of employees across their network of bookstores. I personally am a shopper there, so this is heartbreaking. We will see this in Malaysia.

Also, we encountered out first death from COVID-19 yesterday. And the police yesterday lifted an interstate travel ban, or at least a requirement to register that they were departing the state (crowd at police stations, great way to spread a virus, no?). So many did an exodus to “balik kampung”. Don’t get me wrong, I too thought of departing, but with a sick father, and my mother being the primary carer, I thought it would make sense to ride it out like the rest of my Malaysian brethren.

Today we see Trump refer to it as the “Chinese virus”. Steven Mnuchin believes that in 2 weeks, cash will be sent to every American. In Malaysia, we are always talking about means testing, trying it via e-wallets, etc. I’m sorry but when there is a crisis like this, everyone is equally affected. Don’t means test. Give it to everyone. The so called T20 also have commitments like the M40 and B40.

Love seeing defiant people jog/run/walk in public parks. It is apparently closed. People are still gathering in eateries today. Maybe waiting for takeout, but there is no “social distancing”. I more or less exercised at home. Not much of an exercise, but in the time of corona, I will just make do with achieving my Apple Watch move goal. Which by the way, has been going on for 180 days, non-stop; what a great way to start being locked in, eh?

We also get the first warning that this “partial shutdown” may extend beyond two weeks. I have not spent a period this long in Kuala Lumpur since maybe my college days, so I can say, 20 years. A long time. I’ve not gone anywhere since my return from Tokyo.

Food-wise, to plan for the worse, I ordered from GrabFood at lunchtime and dinnertime (though I did not consume dinner; had a call) — both were from Lim’s Fried Chicken. First time trying it. Good value. Especially since I paid for 2 packs and got the 3rd pack for free, with free delivery. VC subsidies rock!