Last Friday, the Malaysian government announced that they were going to enlist military ‘help’ to curb the abundance of people not abiding the Movement Control Order (MCO) beginning Sunday. Upon hearing this, one of my elderly aunts who lives nearby with her teenage grandson called my mum, crying and almost losing her mind, begging for us to pick her and the kid up to stay at our place. I am glad my mother had the sense to console her that this was not going to be possible, that it would be different if they were staying with us before and/or there was no deadly infectious virus going around — the very reason the MCO is enforced — and that the military was just there to ‘help’ — and she eventually calmed down. Anyone without any prior knowledge as to why my aunt was freaking out would think she was overreacting. But for context, the many frames of references when it comes to the state of emergency and curfew involving military intervention in the mind of my elderly aunt, who is older than mum by any stretch, are these two events that have shaped our country tremendously: the Japanese invasion of Malaya, and the 1969 racial riot. Even so, without any one of us not having experienced any of the events, military deployment into the civilian spaces should be considered as a last resort by any ‘functioning’ government and not to be normalised. I say ‘functioning’ because we need to be reminded this new Malaysian government is one that is borne not out of a democratic electoral means like it should be, hence every single decision of theirs — like all governments’ anyway — should always be critically analysed and challenged. I say ‘functioning’ because in an event of a disaster just like today, a properly functioning government should approach through an empathetic lens — such as freezing rents and loans, providing better safety nets for workers, proper funding for hospitals, and so on so forth. Shifting the frame from the government failure to the frame of ‘delinquent citizens’ in any way, is completely unacceptable. Not only that, rushing to enlist military deployment could induce panic, like in the case of my aunt. I wonder how many elderly people and people recovering from trauma going berserk upon hearing the announcement, because military = bad.
I am rereading Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell right now, where this page complements the flawed idea of romanticising military involvement in civilian spaces:
When fear manifests among the elites as the social order is disrupted in the middle of disasters, they turn to impose strict control on us, rather than mitigating issues from a more empathetic, inclusive lens. It is called elite panic, and the strict control here in the current Malaysian context, is the military intervention.
- An explanation of how coronavirus damages your body.
- As Wuhan reported no new coronavirus cases for the first time, the news offers a glimmer of hope and some lessons to governments on what works.
- Four theories of why people are still out partying.
- “It may be that our fondness for virus as metaphor has made it difficult for us to see viruses as potentially dangerous, even lethal, biological phenomena. In turn, our disinclination to see viruses as literal may have kept us from insisting on and observing the standards and practices that would prevent their spread.” Resisting the interpretation of viruses as metaphor.
- “Societies have been shaped by outbreaks for as long as we’ve had societies. “Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning,” writes Frank M. Snowden in Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present. “Every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand that society’s structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities.”” Infections don’t just attack weaknesses in the human body, they also exploit weaknesses in human society.
- “Today’s threat is altogether another sort of challenge to solidarity and our way of life. It is not a heat wave or a blitz. It can’t be mitigated by going to concerts or museums. It requires isolation.” How cities — made of plazas, subways and skyscrapers, designed to be occupied collectively — are surviving coronavirus.
- Quarantine is unleashing a wave of creativity online, as people are tuning in for poetry readings, meditation, AA meetings, and even raves.
- List of virtual concerts to watch during the shutdown.
- How not to let the coronavirus steal your mental health while you’re alone at home.
- “It reminded me of a story that Bran [Fiona’s half-brother] had told me, about working in construction. One day, when he was twenty-eight, he strolled out onto a beam suspended thirty-five feet in the air—a task that he’d done many times. Suddenly, he was frozen, terrified of falling. Yet all he had to do was touch something — any object at all — to break the spell. ‘Because you’re grounded, you can just touch a leaf on a tree and walk,’ he said.”
- Worth thinking: how ‘maintainers,’ not ‘innovators,’ make the world turn.
- I think I have shared this article before, but we need more stories on the goodness of people amidst all of these trash fire: Why Japan is so successful at returning lost property.
- AI is an ideology, not a set of algorithms.
- “I was born from an apocalypse and have come to tell you what I know — which is that the apocalypse began when Columbus praised God and lowered his anchor. It began when a continent was drawn into cutlets.”
- Reading: Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell, and Chanel Miller’s Know My Name.
- Viewing: Haven’t watched anything today, unfortunately.
- Listening: Westerman, a West Londoner musician who mixes folk-like lyrics with synthetic choral melodies and skeletal percussion.
- Food & Drink: I plucked my first pineapple from my own tree, and made pajeri nenas today.