A good example is the best gift you can offer to your children. In your absence, your example is present, which means you are present always!

— Israelmore Ayivor, inspirational writer and speaker

I read with interest the story of a university student under quarantine, who blatantly ignored the Covid-19 order last week and roamed the streets of Bintulu, only to be arrested.

Apparently, the youth, who was studying in a university in Kuala Lumpur, had returned to Sarawak early October and was instructed to stay at home for 14 days but decided otherwise.

When they picked him up last weekend, he told police that he had gone to his mother’s house in another residential area to get faster Internet connection for his university examination.

Now he faces the possibility of being jailed for six months or worse still, two years’ jail and fine.

This is just the tip of the iceberg because there are many others, including parents, who often flout the Covid-19 orders.

Then there is the recent story of another Kuching father who had a similar experience – only that his son stayed home but he instead threw caution to the wind and roamed the streets of BDC.

I met this parent two months ago when he told me since his son was under quarantine at his house, he was not! Therefore, he did not need to stay at home!

Which brings me to the question of our quarantine laws, which are flexible and difficult to implement and why we should give some credit to the police.

Recently, a friend of mine and his wife returned from USA and they were quarantined in a hotel room, quite happy to have good Internet access and regular nasi lemak meals sent to them.
Even if Sarawak is managing the coronavirus pandemic with distinction compared to some of their neighbouring states, we cannot be complacent.

On Monday, we read about a husband returning from work in Sabah who passed the virus to his wife and four of their children.

As a retired journalist and having turned 70 recently, it’s no joke when “old” people are vulnerable.

The truth is that the virus is no respecter of age; even a child as young as four can die if infected. So, we cannot take chances.

But this does not mean we cannot go out, have a meal with friends, or let our hair down “responsibly” during weekends.

I did just that last weekend and joined scores of people ­all complying with SOP ­who trekked up the Matang hills to the old Hindu temple of the 19th century Tamil tea-cum-coffee estate workers.

Apparently, the Sri Maha Mariamman temple is one of Sarawak’s top weekend attractions, which motivated Tourism minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to hike up the mountain on a working visit and sample the clean and fresh air recently.

Matang is not the only place where Sarawakians can escape from the bustling city environment, because there are other remote enclaves such as the Sadir waterfalls that can de-stress the public living in fear of the virus.

Since the lockdown eight months ago, I have called the police on several occasions whenever I felt someone was flouting SOP – sometimes to my detriment because some of my drinking partners think I am a spoilsport.

Spoilsport or not, I have to keep my distance from some so-called “friends” who think they are heroes if they can survive the dreaded disease.

I am no hero but I know two police patrol car personnel who are; they answered to my urgent call recently when a VIP’s son, who had locked himself outside his room and could not get access to clothes and wallet.

Since the young man did not have many friends in the neighbourhood and he had been “trapped” outside his room the whole day with only a towel around his waist, he called me and I in turn called the police.

Two burly policemen arrived and solved the problem almost immediately. One kick with heavy boots and voila “open sesame”.

So, thanks to the policemen who did my friend a good turn.

Too often we take the police for granted; yes, some can be unfriendly and rigid members of the law, but they will always be there when you need them most!

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.