Peter John: The ‘new norm’ is in the hands of the people

Peter John Jaban

KUCHING, May 2: Human rights activist Peter John Jaban advised Sarawakians to not “behave like rats released from a cage” when restrictions on the movement control order (MCO) are eased, to reopen most economic activities come May 4.

“The prime minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) has now thrown the choice back to the people as to how we establish a ‘new normal’ within the guidelines given.

“We must now move forward with our own choices as employers, as rural folk, as parents, as frontliners, as community members, and each protect the collective health and the livelihoods of the state responsibly,” he said in a statement.

Peter warned that the guidelines will change depending on the people’s actions and that the Sarawak government is studying the proposal and will make a decision based on the current situation.

“This is an economic decision made amid the statistics that Malaysia has so far lost RM68 billion through this crisis, a figure set to rise to RM100 billion if the MCO remains in place or unchanged.

“In the end, though a common country, cause, and crisis bind us, we are not all the same and we cannot have one single solution,” he said.

Peter reminded about the struggles faced by countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea currently, after opening up following initial success.

“As this freedom of choice is being returned to the people, it is clear that the first period of MCO was not the full solution but just a start of a period of training for the citizens of Malaysia.

“And we must mind our training well. There is no point for every citizen to rush out to a restaurant on Monday and undo everything that has been achieved at great cost to the nation.

“We must sacrifice this Gawai and Hari Raya so that we can celebrate together for many more to come. We must find a solution that we can live with, not just for the next few weeks but potentially for years into the future,” he continued.

Noting that there was no vaccine yet, Peter said it was unrealistic to assume that this will all simply go away, as there is always the potential of another outbreak.

“We must now choose how to live in the knowledge that each individual choices will impact society entirely.

“For those of us who can, we must go without our small luxuries for the sake of our communities. If we all control our contacts (social distancing), then more necessary services can continue with reduced risk of infection.

“But life can go on again in the green zones with lower population density and reduced contact. When we have all shown that we can live sensibly in the new climate, then our children can return to school and our lives can achieve a new normal,” he continued. — DayakDaily