THE planned relaxation of standard operating procedures (SOP), as announced by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Hussein, will provide much-needed relief for the people whose lives and livelihoods have been seriously affected these past 18 months.
Perhaps nobody was counting, but the minister said the number of SOP in place had increased to 181 as the government progressively introduced new rules and regulations to defeat the elusive Covid-19 virus.
This will now be reduced to 10 if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is convinced that this is the way forward. His decision is keenly awaited.
Some relaxations have already been announced and effected, principally to travel, shopping and dining out.
More concessions will mean a faster return to a semblance of normalcy and will kick-start the economy.
But whether we have 181 SOP or 10 SOP, there should be no change in the resolve of the rakyat to keep themselves safe and protected.
There must be no compromise on the use of masks (double where possible), keeping physical distances, and following hygienic habits, besides being fully vaccinated.
On these issues, the authorities should show zero tolerance for any violation.
Now that Langkawi is open, the authorities must ensure strict enforcement of the basic SOP on the holiday island.
Sadly, this has not been the case elsewhere. Some videos are making their rounds in social media of holidaymakers at a popular waterfall area where all caution was thrown to the wind.
Eating, bathing, and socialising are all being done with gay abandon. This is also happening on weekends in Port Dickson where the beaches and waterfalls are chock-a-block with picnickers ignoring even the basic SOP.
While reducing the number of SOP is a welcome move, it is more important to enforce the rules.
The presence of large crowds in places such as shopping malls and outdoor recreation is common, especially during weekends. This cannot be opaque to law enforcers.
The rakyat depend on the law enforcers to keep them safe. Doing otherwise is a dereliction of duty and in itself a punishable offence, just as much as non-compliance with SOP is.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Alliance for Safe Community