MANY of us would have seen pictures of US President Donald Trump signing the historic trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill in a recent ceremony at the White House.
Standing behind him were Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other top officials. None of them wanted to miss out on this photo opportunity.
But seriously, none of them needed to be there. They all look like they are in their 60s and 70s, and potential candidates to catch Covid-19.
They didn’t even practise social distancing as they stood close to each other, almost “body-touching”, to make sure they were in the frame. All of them wanted to look important and be pictured with Trump.
In our beloved Malaysia, we are seeing the same ignorance and indifference involving our VIPs who seem more more concerned about their three minutes of fame.
Hello, we are in a crisis. We are at war against the virus, in movement order control (MCO) mode, and we are running against time to break the chain of transmission.
Yet, we still have ministers who walk around with an entourage, expecting a battalion of civil servants to greet them on arrival.
Many of these officials have more urgent matters to attend to than to waste their time entertaining these ministers, and health workers who carry out sanitising work certainly do not require some pep talk from ministers. They just need to carry out their instructions from their supervisors, and do not need such “brilliant” instructions.
Cleaning and disinfecting is not rocket science, but these workers are rightfully under fire for spraying disinfecting solution onto road surfaces instead of frequent touch points such as doorknobs, lift buttons or escalator railings to curb the spread of Covid-19.
More importantly, why do we even need to gather a large group of these workers in one area when we should be practising social distancing?
If we look at the pictures, many City Hall officials are mingling really close to Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, when everyone should have been a proper distance away from each other.
There was absolutely no need to jostle and be seen next to the minister to prove work is being done.
For starters, we need to dispense with this archaic practice of ministers having to be accompanied and greeted by officials, in a ceremonious way, when this is hardly applicable in most developed countries.
Then we saw Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin leading a sanitation exercise at two public places, in Kajang and Petaling Jaya. This “Zuraida Hazmat” moment has raised many an eyebrow. She seemed overdressed.
The operation involved over 150 personnel from 10 government agencies to clean up public markets, sidewalks and transportation hubs.
She was attired in a white protective suit, and has no doubt sent the message to the people, which would be carried by the media, even if she seemed to have gone overboard.
But the people next to her, presumably bodyguards and officials, were just wearing face masks.
More than ever, in the age of social media when ministers are closely watched, little missteps like this get amplified and shared swiftly.
Some of these may be the work of political opponents who just want to ridicule these ministers, but the point is, simply, why allow this to even happen?
Cut down on these unnecessary functions to avoid being outside, where officials who don’t really need to be there have to risk their health because the “Menteri” is there.
And worse, we have this push to get 222 Members of Parliament to meet in our crampy Dewan Rakyat to discuss the economic stimulus package.
Please lah, we cannot afford our lawmakers to be in what would probably be a death chamber instead of an august chamber, and have them ending up in quarantine.
This is not the time for silly press opportunities or Dewan Rakyat meetings.