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Ong Tee keat: The Unorthodox Lunar New Year


By: Ong Tee keat    Source: RDCY website    Published: 2020-02-18

The Year of Rodent in 2020 will leave an indelible mark in my memory as we usher in the Lunar New Year against the gloomy backdrop of the onslaught of Coronavirus.

Though my country, Malaysia was then unaffected by the virus outbreak, my mind was nonetheless fully gripped and obsessed with the escalating statistics of fatalities, first in Wuhan, China and later nationwide China. To me, this was no mere figures, but a massive loss of human lives.

I began my Lunar New Year break with seemingly endless calls for help as I decided to throw in my weight to assist my Mainland Chinese associates in soliciting supplies of protective gears, face masks and hand gloves for medical use in the nationwide fight against the deadly virus.

On the outset, challenges ahead appeared numerous and insurmountable, ranging from source of funds, procurement of materials, matching of technical specifications between Malaysian standard and the Chinese criteria, logistics, customs clearance and ultimate delivery to the earmarked recipients.

The influx of monetary sponsorships was indeed a timely morale booster but we were immediately put to test as most of the local manufacturers and vendors of the necessary materials had then been working up to the brim of their capacity.

Together with my working partner who is a Chinese national hailing from Shandong province, Mr. Chris Ban Yandong (班彦东), we managed to commit our NGO entity, namely The Malaysia-China Silk Route Business Chamber, in this challenging endeavour which was later named " To China With Love ".

Within the 10 long days, with the help and advice of a string of friends within and outside Malaysia, relentless efforts began to bear fruits with teething problems solved one after another.

This tedious pathway of getting things done is indeed an unforgettable learning curve for us. We are finally rewarded with a decent pool of supplies, comprising 2.75 million pieces of medical hand gloves and 20000 pieces of disposable protective clothing.

While I led my Business Chamber delegation to present to the Minister of Primary Industries of Malaysia, the summary of our initiative in aid of China on 7 Feb 2020, part of our reported cargo load was then hitting the road to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The goods are ready to be despatched to the various ear-marked destinations which had been contagiously hit by the virus in China.

While we walk the talk, we are indeed grateful to the China Certification & Inspection Corporation ( CCIC ) Kuala Lumpur office, our working partner, for their cross border Customs & Duties coordination in their bid to fulfill the "Zero Delay" assurance to us.

What To Contain?

Throughout the history of mankind, virus knows no race or nation state. It could cause an outbreak anywhere. It is the collective responsibility of international community to fight the deadly pandemic concertedly in the interest of human survival.

Unfortunately the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China reveals some of the most despicable and ugliest traits in humankind, ranging from the prompt labelling of the epidemic as China or Chinese-related to the unkind, if not inhumane, aspirations that the virus outbreak will jeopardise China's economy to one's advantage.

While acknowledging the legitimate rights of individual nation states to impose travel ban or restrictive advisory against China, the decision must commensurate with the status of public health worldwide as was decreed by the WHO. Any over-reactive response is likely to jeopardise the bilateral ties. Much worse if the response is deemed discriminatory in nature against a specific nation or ethnicity.

Any contemplation to extend the scope of ban to trade is certainly too far fetched, especially so when the virus outbreak in Wuhan was still deemed manageable by WHO. Such condemnable thoughts as hoping the Chinese supply chain would be jeopardized by the outbreak, thus triggering the backflow of industrial production to one's own home country is obviously politically motivated, unrelated to public health concerns.

It is common knowledge that zero-sum minded politicians have long been obsessed with strategies to contain China in the interest of upholding their nation's hegemonic dominance. But in face of such a deadly virus now, the target of containment in front should rightly be the virus, not the country or its people perse. In this regard, common sense and humanitarian sense must prevail.



The Malaysia-China Silk Route Business Chamber.

8 Feb 2020, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA.

The Author is also the Chairman of The Centre for New Inclusive Asia

Key Words:COVID-19   cooperation   ONG TEE KEAT   RDCY  

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