Skip to main content

Threats bore results, breathing wasn't easy: Malaysian narrative of Covid-19 handling

By Jay Ihsan 

It was astounding that a so-called pandemic succeeded in bringing the world and humanity to its knees. Life literally came to a standstill with the world baffled at how best to tackle the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid- 19.
Governments the world over did the unbelievable and unexpected --forcing the people into taking the mRNA untested Covid- 19 vaccines, protecting instead the vaccine makers and not the end users.
For those refusing to buy into the Covid-19 narrative, be it wearing the face mask in public spaces or be vaccinated, the government threatened to make life difficult for them.
The drill back in Malaysia, a country of 32.37 million people, was no different. Lockdowns, face masks and vaccination were topmost priority.
While the Malaysian government held back from making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory, breathing easy was nowhere on the horizon. Face masks became a regular feature in public spaces and places of prayer. So was the deal with vaccination – it became the people’s “identity”.
In fact, churches had their prayers interrupted when overzealous authorities turned up to ensure the standard operating procedure (SOP) was adhered to.
For individuals refusing the Covid-19 vaccines, Malaysia’s Health Minister Khairy Jamaludin unreservedly threatened to make life difficult for them.
A misfortune that the threats and intimidation bore results. On May 22, Khairy was quoted by national news agency BERNAMA as congratulating Malaysians on their good behaviour in the "transition to endemic" phase.
"We see in terms of the very good behaviour of Malaysians who still wear masks when they are in an open area or outside during the transition to endemic phase.
"This means Malaysians already know how to live with Covid- 19. They also know that if there are symptoms they shouldn't go out, shouldn't mingle...or they will isolate themselves."
Khairy also credited the high vaccination rate as a factor that aided in controlling the infections in the country -- some 27.4 million Malaysians have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
In February, Khairy via a tweet had this to say about booster shots: "Any booster is better than no booster. Although the MOH recommends a booster dose of Pfizer or AZ (AstraZeneca) for the best top-up protection, some as still asking for options.
"We will strongly recommend a Pfizer or AZ boost. But something is better than nothing."
It was also in February that the Health Minister issued an ultimatum to Malaysians -- get the booster shot or else forgo their vaccination status.
Then he declared that there would be no benefits for those refusing the booster shot.
In February the Health Minister issued an ultimatum -- get the booster shot or else forgo the vaccination status
The unrelenting threats and ultimatums left an already dazed Malaysians in a state of disarray. Yet, they obliged for the booster shot,    only to regret later after their health took a turn for the worse.
There were cases of the old and young, all jabbed with the Covid-19 experiencing and with some dying of heart attacks. The ruling government meanwhile remained nonchalant about these deaths.
It was not just Khairy doing the pitching in favour of the Covid-19 vaccines. The chief executive officer of ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd (which comes under purview of the Health Ministry) Anas Alam Faizli reported that 27 in one million recipients suffer from severe Aefi (adverse events following immunisation).
And Anas tweeted that vaccines are safe.
Malaysians who have been Covid- 19 vaccine harmed or injured have for reasons best known to them stayed silent.   
To make matters worse, doctors in the country are not mandated to report the AEFI cases. It is left to the individuals to do so to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) AEFI Repository.
In May, the Magistrate's Court ordered Liyana Razali to undergo psychiatric observation after she alleged two students died after being vaccinated with Covid- 19 vaccines last year.
The prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, is now urging Malaysians to get boosted yet again. Many who were unwilling then are now doing so citing fear of yet another new sub-variant.
Someone I know swears by the belief that "ignorance is pain and misery". Yet most Malaysians have chosen to remain ignorant and instead rolled up their sleeves for yet another mRNA shot.
Is ignorance the easy way out for Malaysians who then end up regretting having taken the Covid-19 vaccine?
Like many others the world over who rushed to get vaccinated against Covid- 19, most Malaysians too feel familiarity is no contempt when it comes to Covid- 19 vaccines and face masks.
Should we see this as the new normal for Malaysians or ignorance all the way?
*Journalist based in Malaysia 



Importance of Bangladesh for India amidst 'growing might' of China in South Asia

By Samara Ashrat*  The basic key factor behind the geopolitical importance of Bangladesh is its geographical location. The country shares land borders with Myanmar and India. Due to its geographical position, Bangladesh is a natural link between South Asia and Southeast Asia.  The country is also a vital geopolitical ally to India, in that it has the potential to facilitate greater integration between Northeast India and Mainland India. Not only that, due to its open access to the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh has become significant to both China and the US.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'BBC film shows only tip of iceberg': Sanjiv Bhatt's daughter speaks at top US press club

By Our Representative   The United States' premier journalists' organisation, the National Press Club (NPC), has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recent "attacks on journalists in India." Speaking at the screening of an episode of the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” banned in India, in the club premises, NPC President Eileen O’Reilly said, “Since Modi came to power we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his regime has suppressed the rights of its citizens to a free and independent news media."

Chinese pressure? Left stateless, Rohingya crisis result of Myanmar citizenship law

By Dr Shakuntala Bhabani*  A 22-member team of Myanmar immigration officials visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar to verify more than 400 Rohingya refugees as part of a pilot repatriation project. Does it hold out any hope for the forcibly displaced people to return to their ancestral homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar? Only time will tell.

China ties up with India, Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingyas; Myanmar unwilling

By Harunur Rasid*  We now have a new hope, thanks to news reports that were published in the Bangladeshi dailies recently. Myanmar has suddenly taken initiatives to repatriate Rohingyas. As part of this initiative, diplomats from eight countries posted in Yangon were flown to Rakhine last week. Among them were diplomats from Bangladesh, India and China.

40,000 Odisha adolescent girls ask CM: Why is scheme to fight malnutrition on paper?

By Our Representative  In unique a postcard campaign to combat malnutrition, aimed at providing dietary diversity, considered crucial during adolescence, especially among girls, signed by about 40,000 adolescent girls from over 10,000 villages, have reminded Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik that his government's Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), which converged with Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman  ( POSHAN ) 2.0 in 2021, is not being implemented in the State.

Natural farming: Hamirpur leads the way to 'huge improvement' in nutrition, livelihood

By Bharat Dogra*  Santosh is a dedicated farmer who along with his wife Chunni Devi worked very hard in recent months to convert a small patch of unproductive land into a lush green, multi-layer vegetable garden. This has ensured year-round supply of organically grown vegetables to his family as well as fetched several thousand rupees in cash sales.

Over-stressed? As Naveen Patnaik turns frail, Odisha 'moves closer' to leadership crisis

By Sudhansu R Das  Not a single leader in Odisha is visible in the horizon who can replace Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He has ruled Odisha for nearly two and half decades. His father, Biju Patnaik, had built Odisha; he was a daring pilot who saved the life of Indonesia’s Prime Minister Sjahrir and President Sukarno when the Dutch army blocked their exit.