Articles, Opinions & Views: Covid-19 – an anecdote on panic-buying from the frontlines - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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No Atheists
In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Covid-19 – an anecdote on panic-buying from the frontlines - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, March 28, 2020
Malaysiakini : “Hysteria is impossible without an audience. Panicking by yourself is the same as laughing alone in an empty room. You feel really silly.”― Chuck Palahniuk, 'Invisible Monsters'
COMMENT | A young nurse who works at the frontline out of the blue emailed me about the panic-buying she has witnessed and how it has affected her family and her. In a long email, she told me how she was working multiple shifts and she was self-quarantining because she did not want to endanger her family.
Her oldest son was doing the shopping since her husband passed away some years ago. He has been doing this since he was a teenager. Life was tough but enjoyable before she “went to war” with this virus. However, her son who (also) works in the essential services industry has been finding it difficult to get groceries and other essential items because of all the panic-buying.
Online shopping for fruits and vegetables are beyond their means. Not only is she looking after her family, but she also has to think of some members of the extended family from her husband's side as well. Her son either gets up early to go shopping or tries to do it during his lunch break - which is difficult – but most times when he heads to the supermarkets or grocery stores, panic-buying has left the store empty.
This is more acute when the government says it is going to make “important” statements and there are a couple of days between the said important statements. So people rush to the stores and buy up essential items especially fruit and vegetables.
“My son went early to Tesco one morning after he did his prayers in the house. He was one of the first and waited in line. When he passed through the checking system – temperature check – he went straight to the vegetable section only see this man buy up the last 10 packets of a particular vegetable. Not only that, but there were also very few packets of vegetables or loose vegetables left. And my son was one of the first in line.”
What am I supposed to do, she wrote. She tells members of her family to only buy for a couple of days. The government has assured people that there are enough supplies. Think of other people and what they are going through, she continues. Why be selfish? She said that she works hard, does not have much contact with her family because of her work at the frontlines and she cannot even give them a decent meal.
She said she initially rang up her son and told him to get as much as possible to stock up the house, but then called him afterwards and told him 'just enough' for a couple of days. Other people need food too and it would be wrong to deprive people of essentials.
Admittedly, the movement control order (MCO) has caused much confusion. The government has conceded that there is some disruption in the food supply chain, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Fruit Farmers' Association chairperson Jeffrey Choong said this: "We are prepared to find solutions together. If we can't meet face-to-face, let's do it online. This is a serious issue." So the government should mitigate some of its problematic enforcement of the MCO by meeting and coming out with solutions with these stakeholders.
Hysteria of panic-buying
Look, I get it. The problem with panic-buying is that it is self-perpetuating. You see pictures of empty shelves and see grocery-laden shopping carts and you decide that you, too, need to go out and supply your home. You are inundated with health warnings about self-isolation and you suddenly realise that your pantry is not stocked with enough essentials to tide you over.
There is also this fear that things will run out and you read news stories of shipments being delayed, vegetables and fruit farmers destroying their products, fisherman dumping their catch and all this plays into that fear of scarcity. Therefore, you decide that the only solution is to buy as much as you can. You probably don’t even see it as panic-buying but rather “pragmatic-buying”.
It gets worse when you, too, have a family to feed, you don’t know if restrictions will be further tightened and let's face facts - you do not have much faith in the way the government is handling the situation.
The government claims that the food supply chain is open. The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) claims that they are not stopping essentials items from moving across the country. But yet the government acknowledges that there have been disruptions to food supply and the fact is, everything is connected hence food producers have a problem operating within the restrictions of the MCO. But this does not mean that there is a shortage of food, only a shortage of effective policy.
What makes some disruptions worse is when folks panic-buy and this leads to more problems for the folks who cannot afford to panic-buy. Moreover, this is really the issue here. Some people can afford to hoard food, while some cannot.
In this time of a crisis, we have to step back and think about how our actions are affecting the communities we live in. While the government should be hectored into solving the issues facing food producers, we should not make the situation worse by indulging in our worst fears and depriving other people by panic- buying.
This is especially important when we are relying on people at the frontlines while we safely stay at home.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:10 AM  
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