How is corona changing lives around the globe ?
Jasmine will tell us how corona has changed her life in Malaysia
Jasmine is a project associate at eyeo and working from Malaysia. In this interview she will tell us how corona has changed her working routines and where she wants to travel once the corona pandemic is over. We will post more interviews soon, check out how we handle corona at eyeo in the mean time.
1. Where do you live and how is your living situation at the moment?
I live in Malaysia, a country in South-East Asia often overshadowed by our neighbour, Singapore. Since coronavirus went viral (pun intended), we’ve been in a nation-wide lockdown like many other countries. Interstate travels were banned and the police (and later on, the army) set up roadblocks everywhere. All businesses are not allowed to operate with exception for essential industries. The lockdown, known as Movement Control Order (MCO), was enforced on 18 March. It was initially set for two weeks but was then extended for another two week and kept extending till now. We’re now moving into the phase where lockdown rules are easing but businesses are skeptical about re-opening and people are worried about a second wave coming.
2. How did you experience the lockdown?
During the whole lockdown order, we’re not allowed to step outside of our homes unless it’s for approved reasons such as grocery shopping, going to the doctor’s appointment or going to work as an essential worker. If you’re stopped by the police without a valid reason or permit, you will be asked to turn back. Later on, the government started imposing a hefty fine as people were apparently ignoring the lockdown orders. And now, if you were to break the lockdown order, you’ll be fined AND sent to prison.
Unsurprisingly, there were supply shortages the first couple weeks as people rushed to hoard food and daily essentials — instant noodles, bread, milk, eggs, disinfectants, and of course, toilet rolls were the first to go. The discount grocers tend to struggle more with shortages and extremely long queues.
Just before coronavirus blew up as a global pandemic, I was set on a holiday trip to Australia for a concert and my flight was just a day shy of the lockdown. Needless to say, plans had to be cancelled and my flight was rescheduled after much pain as customer support lines were busy with everyone calling to inquire about their itinerary. I have to admit, I didn’t think COVID-19 was a threat in my mind back then. It definitely didn’t occur to me that we would escalate to a lockdown, much less a global one.
The skepticism turned into fear as lockdown was imposed. I didn’t recognize it back then but I felt depressed for a couple weeks. Now, I’ve stopped keeping track of coronavirus news as it did nothing but fuel my anxiety. Settling into what people are coining “the new normal” took time, but now it’s a comfortable existence. I try not to think about the long term plans and keep my outlook on the short term.
3. In what way is the situation in your country special? How does it differ from other countries?
Just a couple weeks before the coronavirus situation was acknowledged, the Malaysian democracy was bulldozed by politicians who’d betrayed the rakyat’s (citizen’s) mandate. The conspirators defected and dissolved the appointed government, leaving a vacuum in leadership and forming what the netizens have coined a “backdoor government”, full of the very people the Malaysian citizens voted to oust in 2018.
Amongst the despair about the death of democracy in Malaysia was the brewing coronavirus situation, which had all but been put into the back burner while politicians scrambled to grab a slice of the pie and secure their coffers. I won’t bore you further with details regarding the political landscape in Malaysia but there’s good documentaries on the corruption and scandals on Netflix (or just Google “1MDB”).
With that in mind, many people stopped trusting the government to do what’s best for the people, knowing that the Malaysian folks’ best interest are not being kept. In a rising pandemic situation, you can imagine the odds are stacked against the newly formed government who’d found themselves in power at the worst time, no sympathies for the greedy politicians and their dreams.
To the credit of the prime minister (or in more likelihood — the PR team), the prime minister held live telecast speeches every week or so, and managed to rally us to unite against the disease, even if we still felt cheated by these powermongers just a couple weeks back.
Quite a stark contrast to the landscape in most countries around the world, I’d imagine.
4. How does it affect your daily working routines?
Though I’ve been working remotely since I joined eyeo, my routine has definitely changed. Previously I was never at home for more than a day as I enjoyed working from co-working spaces and cafes.
Now that those are no longer an option (and won’t be an option for the foreseeable future), I needed to set up a proper work space. A change in work style was also needed. And perhaps as a side effect of staying at home for so long, I’ve noticed that I’m staying up later and later… My internal body clock is so messed up at this point that I’m probably in sync with German time.
5. What are you looking most forward to after the crisis?
Work wise, I miss hanging out with fellow colleagues and just working together in person. With borders closed or restricted, it will be awhile since we’ll meet again. We’ve started to host remote sessions to replace team week and it has done a lot for me. I don’t want to speak for the entire team but the response has been positive.
On a personal scope, I’d like to go and have a plate of my comfort food — the delectable Char Kuey Teow at my favourite hawker stall… if it’s still in operation. I enjoy yumcha (Cantonese slang for hanging out at eateries with friends) sessions so I’d like to do that again, once it’s deemed safe to do so. Though I’m usually not an outdoor activities person, after being cooped up at home for so long, I’m eager to hike and do something fun, like white-water rafting. I also really enjoy singing so I’d want to go to a karaoke bar but that seems unlikely for the rest of 2020 and more. And once this pandemic is over over and borders are re-opened… I’m going to make my way to the land of the rising sun — Japan and hopefully spend some time there.
More information on working at eyeo during and how we handle it in times of corona can be found here.