• 2020
  • Preservation of life must come first

Preservation of life must come first

Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
November 30, 2020


FOR most human beings, life is sacred. And it must come first in ensuring that humanity remains respected, dignified and sanctified. All lives matter. Period.

There can be no other way as we closely witness, almost daily for the last few months, events unfolding in the world's most democratic nation. Ironically, then and even now, innocent lives are wantonly wasted on the political pedestal in the rush to secure power.

A sheer means to an end. Add to that lies, half-truths and fake news in a world made more uncertain by the coronavirus pandemic. We also see how social media is misused and abused to lend support by promoting hatred and racism as well as sexism.

So much so that many global companies launched a worldwide boycott to force change but with little consequence. Therein involves leaders who are disconnected from the reality on the ground when defying lessons brought out so clearly by the pandemic.

Overall, it is not only dehumanising but at once commercialises being human by putting the need for profits above the lives of fellow humans.

So, it is appalling to learn recently how businesses reap unbridled profits from the miseries of others as the pandemic heightened. The protection of life and well-being of workers are found wanting.

One such experience led to a closure of tens of the outlets involved, while reportedly thousands of workers are said to be severely affected at the facilities following a drastic rise in positive Covid-19 cases among them.

It is regrettable that greed seems to have blinded many despite the daily deaths reported at times in the thousands globally.

What with the onslaught of the so-called third waves, many more are affected. In the most advanced economy, hospitalisation is said to be at its peak. No amount of money and technology can give any assurances. It includes vaccines, a new variable that adds to the complexity of the situation.

If they are going to save the day, human lives must take precedence, and not be compromised in the search for power and profits. It is about the collective well-being of humanity. No one is to be left behind. Inclusive, equitable, just and sustainable is the reality of the future, post-pandemic.

This is what the pandemic is now telling so that we can be better prepared. Unfortunately, many have missed it, if not dismissed it blatantly due to selfish reasons or ignorance. Covid-19 has made the invisible, visible. Not in the tangible sense but intangibly — pointing to the values of cleanliness, openness, vigilance, integrity and discipline — spelt Covid.

Each of these is a vital value to break the spread of Covid-19, only if they are infused organically into politics and economics so that the invisible is also made more visible in both words and practices. This is the only way out of the pandemic, as a preparation for the post-pandemic era with a new set of norms.

Not limited to just three Cs and Ws, namely, avoiding crowds, close contact and confined spaces or the wearing of masks, observing safe physical distance, and washing your hands. We also need to add three Rs — be fully responsible in upholding that life is truly revered and respected in whatever we do.

The writer, a 'New Straits Times' columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector