Dear Fellow Community Members,
I last wrote to you a few days ago upon receiving Chairman Malik of LIF’s message from MHI. Since then, and over the past week, news about the spread of COVID-19 has become even more concerning. Several countries globally, especially the US and many countries in Europe have not yet been able to contain the spread of the virus. The number of cases has more than doubled over the past five days. Even more worrying is that fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate.
In our region, the number of cases in all our countries has increased rapidly. As a result, several governments have instituted more aggressive containment measures. Singapore will be commencing a “circuit breaker” measure to disrupt infection from Tuesday; Malaysia is effectively in a lockdown and has been for several weeks. Many other countries in the Far East have initiated curfews, partial or full lockdowns and other restrictions. In addition to an increase in imported cases in many countries, there is now evidence of local community spread globally.
As a community, this means we need to be even more careful, vigilant, and should abide by our government directives. Specifically:
- Please stay at home as instructed by your country’s governments unless it is absolutely critical for you to step out;
- Order your essential supplies online, and avoid hoarding. Our governments have assured us of food security and there is ample supply for everyone;
- Do not socialise or meet with anyone other than your immediate family (you are advised to even stay away from extended family);
- Please see a doctor or visit a hospital if you are unwell;
- Do not permit senior or vulnerable members of your families to leave their homes;
- Practice the strictest rules for good hygiene – wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible – especially before meals and when returning home from outside; and
- Wear a mask if you leave home, to minimize risks.
From amongst the list of these measures, the most important one is to STAY HOME! This will reduce the risk of a larger outbreak in each of our countries. The underlying principle of these measures is to minimise physical contact with others. If we do not go out, if we avoid physical contact with others, then the virus won’t be able to spread further.
We know this may be challenging but if we are able to adjust our habits, this will benefit our families, our community, and our countries. The next few weeks will be critical for slowing down the spread of the virus in the Far East so adhering to these measures is extremely important.
Our institutions continue to work hard on various initiatives for your benefit and to support you:
- Our COVID-19 Task Force is monitoring the situation to communicate new and relevant measures. Your safety is our utmost priority;
- Regular dialogue with national and local leadership to understand on-the-ground developments and global trends;
- Introducing online platforms to introduce key ideas and resources;
- Suggesting alternate teaching or upskilling methods, including home based learning, for all ages;
- Weekly readouts, posters and bi-weekly electronic messages to keep you abreast of developments and provide advice;
- Circulating frequently asked questions about the virus and directing you to credible sources of information.
As I have said before, in times such as these, it is even more important for us to remain strong and united with our families and with the community. We must try to make time to pray together as a family, in our homes. Let us also lend a helping hand to anyone that needs our support – and there will be many individuals in our communities who need our help. Let’s also use this time to see how we may need to reassess or re-position our professional lives or careers or adapt our businesses in an ever-changing world due to the impact of the virus.
We have set up an Economics Task Force and an Upskilling and Training Task Force that will work with you in the coming weeks and months to provide advice during the difficult economic environment that we are currently facing; one that is expected to continue for some time. You will be hearing from these task forces very soon with details of the stimulus packages that each of your governments are providing and with ideas for you to re-position and re-build your skills over time.
In addition, we have just had a Council meeting today where we discussed plans for various online sessions that we intend to host for the community over the next couple of months. Details will be shared with you shortly - topics will include mental wellbeing, an economic analysis of the impact of the virus, learning English, ideas for capacity building, enhancing digital learning, upskilling, and how to stay mentally and physically active at home, amongst others.
I would like to, once again, commend all the members of our institutions, front-liners (medical workers, support and ancillary staff) from our community and our M/K for being responsive, caring, communicating well and frequently and being strong pillars for us all to rely on during this trying period. If we follow our government directives, take the necessary precautions, and stay united as a community, I am confident we will win this fight! As always, my colleagues from all our institutions and I are available for you any time.
We pray that you and your families, and all families worldwide remain happy, strong, united, safe, and healthy.
The health of all depends on each one of us. #FarEastUnited
With best personal regards,
Council for the Far East