Olsim: Motorcycle-barrier approach

WITH our country having the longest lockdown or quarantine period in the world, and being the only country that requires both face shields and face masks at the same time, why do we still have the biggest outbreak in Asia? A friend claimed that perhaps because those at the helm practice that infamous "Motorcycle-barrier Approach" in decision making and planning -- macho politics above all else even if devoid of logic and purpose.

That motorcycle-barrier proposal came as a response against one young leader's initiative to service medical frontliners using tricycles during the earlier and stricter lockdown in the country. Logically, the use of tricycles which were provided with safety dividers that separate the drivers and passengers is understandable especially since they are for frontline servicing . Said move by that young leader irked the higher-ups who have not thought of that plausible idea even with the highest paygrade. Hence, they prohibited the trikes but failed to respond to the need of the thousands of nurses who have no cars to go to the hospital. Then the inquiry came: "may our husbands transport us to work using motorcycles?" The higher-ups, with their majestic intelligence, required motorcycle barriers in backriding, that will supposedly separate family members, even the husbands and wives -- couples who eat and sleep together. They are so proud with that absurd motorcycle barrier policy that they even exhibited how they "expertly studied" the move using a regular electric fan to simulate wind. Even with criticisms and opinions of its dangers from aerodynamics experts and engineers, and any person with good sense, the higher-ups refused to budge, further saying that there should be physical-distancing even in homes. Thank goodness that they came to their senses after some couple of months. Turns out in the end that such stubbornness to withdraw the policy is due to a macho thing -- they just cannot admit they are wrong, and that their brainchild is not a good idea.

That is the "motorcycle-barrier" approach as the epitome of our Covid-19 response. When a leader from the opposition suggested that we employ our local tailors in making PPEs to help the livelihood of the unemployed during the lockdown, the higher ups shoot down the idea opting to purchase from China. The idea is good as both a health and economic project, but since it came from the opposition, it won't see the light of day. Politics over sense. Same with urging the leadership to ban flights from China earlier before the pandemic, we were so afraid of the power politics and repercussions that the leadership decided to wait it out until the first case happened...which came from China. All the great and sensible ideas and solutions in the world will not matter when it will not come from those at the helm...or when it offends the senses of those in power, or when it is against their politics. The lack of humility to accept great ideas due to difference in politics undermines the concept of healing as one" in this challenge. As proven by those countries who have successfully suppressed the Covid-19 pandemic, politics is not a good mix in responding to this health crisis.

What further makes everything toxic nowadays is that every expression made is reduced to political stands, just like our government. That, criticism will always equate one to a "delawan," and a recognition of good projects will label one as "DDebs." When was the last time that it is okay to both criticize and praise our government as its stakeholders and not be labeled by some political colors? We have to change this mindset or else we will become "enablers" of this harmful motorcycle-barrier approach -- that we should decide and react basing on logic, or studies, or even good common sense...not because of politics.


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