By Ang Lai Soon
The Year that was the best of times ? And the worst of times?
Annus horribillis! What do we all expect in the new year?
The expected tumultuous and turbulent year of 2022 will see continuing disruption of our lives by the Delta COVID-19 virus and now the craftier Omicron, with some five million deaths already recorded worldwide.
However, there is some hope that this pandemic can be brought under some form of control by each and every one of us by pledging to follow the advice of scientists and medical experts, not otherwise.
I am cautiously optimistic!
The jubilation over the virus vaccines and the success of some politicians to the sufferings and grief of the people worldwide, the year that was has been indeed one more of anger and sorrows rather than of joys and happiness.
The beginning of the year 2021 was one of fear, anxiety and much sadness as we journeyed into the unknown.
The world was deserted. Mecca and the Vatican were empty.
For the first time the air was fresh and crispy. A clean environment to my delight and that of environmentalists, but in that ideal environment thousands and thousands of deaths were hurriedly buried in mass graves, without the normal religious rituals due to the highly infectious virus. A typical apocalyptic scenario!
There is a glimmer of hope that this pandemic could be brought under some form of control by each and every one of us on the Planet Earth by pledging to follow the advice of qualified scientists and medical experts.
I believe that all people have the intelligence to tell the difference between a sensible, logical and reasonable advice as compared with one that might be detrimentally fatal to our safety and well-being.
I honestly believe there is no one in the entire universe who doesn’t want a return to pre-pandemic lifestyle.
A life of freedom within the framework of the law.
I venture to suggest that the pandemic teaches us an important lesson: we are part of nature.
From this pandemic we have learned that we, as vulnerable species, are no different from any other species, many of which man has driven almost to extinction.
Climate change from exploiting the world’s oceans, land, water and air is in fact sowing the seeds of our own self extinction. This should not be, and should never be.
A new year pledge must be to live in harmony and not to destroy it.
Climate change is serious. I am profoundly saddened to see the massive floods in Peninsular states caused by climate change and human factors, killing not fewer than 47 people and displacing thousands of families.
Not only lives of human beings but also those of animals like dogs and cats, property and all personal belongings have been destroyed. Many people were taken ill and traumatized, adding to the untold sufferings caused by the various variants.
Sarawak and Sabah will be having our annual monsoon, and in view of the extreme weather conditions prevailing elsewhere, these two partners of the Federation should be adequately prepared for the destructive strong monsoon winds and rains.
This unavoidable wet weather will add misery to the spike of the coronavirus that has overwhelmed our entire healthcare system.
Ostensibly, all over the world authorities with less than desired planning in place should consider having a master plan to deal with recurring annual flooding phenomenon.
An independent commission with only professional engineers and expects in the government and universities should conduct a study immediately and present recommendations for implementation, if possible before the next uncontrollable floods set in.
If global climate change is not addressed the way it should be, the extreme weather conditions will inevitably deteriorate adversely in the years ahead.
My thoughts and prayers are also with all those medical personnel, including doctors, nurses and cleaners, essential services such as the police, immigration, fire & rescue, volunteers, armed forces, mass media, staff of eateries, pharmacies, grocers and dustmen, for risking their lives to keep us safe.
Do not overwhelm them. We must be considerate and think of their lives and their loved ones as well.
I warmly welcome the new Federal and Sarawak health and education ministers. I pray that my campaign to have CPR (cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation) taught with first aid will now be officially implemented through the relevant acts of parliament.
Many a precious life can be saved, and the ambulance and hospitals not overwhelmed.
I have recruited a retired doctor from overseas and hopefully his peers as well, as full time volunteers to assist not only in the teaching of first aid and CPR, but also to travel to other parts of Sarawak as well.
In doing so, this will be the first ever in the country where you are truly a volunteer with no hidden agenda.
I look forward to 2022 with cautious optimism.
Let’s look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.
God bless our country!
God bless our people!
Happy New Year!
(Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon is Sarawak social activist, philanthropist, founder of St John’s Ambulance Sarawak.)