By Ang Lai Soon
The triumph and joy of welcoming the rollout of the vaccines must be the only event that gave a ray of hope to the people everywhere in the midst of the pandemic, albeit with various limitations and disappointments.
Otherwise, It would be eminently sensible, I think, if we say that this New Year has again not started in the best of circumstances.
Traditionally, for thousands of years, the first buds herald the dawn of Spring, new beginnings, new hopes and new aspirations, but sadly this is not to be.
Rather, the new year starts again with fears and anxieties and above all, worries of a monumental uncertain future.
Some try to believe “all is well, we will live with the virus”, yet globally infections surge exponentially and lives of young and old are lost by the thousands every day.
Globally, coming to 400 million cases confirmed infected, and almost six million deaths by the highly contagious and crafty Covid-19 Delta, and now the new highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The infamous virus, this century’s notorious “highway man”, is holding the world to ransom!
Taking a closer look at this pandemic, in fact, it is the de facto THIRD WORLD WAR, though the enemy is not human beings but a crafty and invisible virus which attacks without the conventional firearms!
The entire human race fights back with the endless vaccines being rolled out by the same countries which normally supply firearms and ammunition of all descriptions to nations caught in political, ethnic and religious conflicts!
These deals are in trillions of dollars. Now these very countries are selling the vaccines to all the countries globally, if they can afford them.
As long as the human race has to live in fear with stringent measures, and to lead the life of a face-covered “highway man”, human existence becomes less meaningful.
So, what can we do?
We must all make some sacrifices for the long-term benefits, or we will have to carry on living the way we do now since the pandemic.
But assistance must be given to all, especially those in the lower income groups.
Any form of profiteering should not be allowed at all at this trying time. It is considered immoral.
Financial institutions which still make enormous profits must not act like a money-making machine, not taking into consideration the plight and sufferings of the majority of people.
Our New Year resolution ideally should be to be united to fight a common enemy. Together we can end this so-called “new normal”, so we can lead a normal meaningful life of freedom within the framework of the law and hopefully, happiness when all can rebuild the almost ruined life and economy.
Extreme climate change is creating tsunamis of all sorts and descriptions all over the world.
Extraordinary weather conditions are experienced almost everywhere, especially in the northern hemisphere.
Sudden change to adverse weather conditions are not uncommon today.
Torrential rains, massive floods, storms of dangerous cold winds and heaviest snowfalls are killing people and displacing millions. Winter in countries otherwise normal is hot and humid.
You have the droughts and the extreme hot weather! The list goes on.
This is the significant and extreme change due mainly to human factors over the centuries since the Industrial Revolution.
Mankind must learn to respect the environment and learn to live in peace and harmony with nature.
This is a most critical period to stop climate change. We must start today, not tomorrow. Let’s take the first step!
Laissez-faire on action to slow down and begin to reverse climate change is no longer an option, and all of us have the mammoth task of seeing that this is done.
One attribute of the human race is that of optimism, especially in the face of adversity. So, with you, I look forward to the Year of the Tiger being one in which all the people face up to the problems we now face and deal with them with determination and fortitude.
The future beckons. It is in our hands!
God bless us all. Happy New Year!
(Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon is Sarawak social activist, philanthropist, founder of St John’s Ambulance Sarawak.)