Looking forward to a great new year

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

— Melody Beattie, American author

I’m looking forward to a great new year. We will be bidding farewell to 2020 in four days’ time and welcoming 2021, a brand new year.

Christians have just celebrated Christmas, an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, and the season for peace, joy and fellowship with their families and friends.

Meanwhile, Chinese all over the world, including those in Malaysia, celebrated the Dumpling Festival by eating the tang yuan, a dessert comprising balls of glutinous rice flour, on Dec 21. For the Chinese, the festival means that soon, the Lunar New Year will be here.

After a challenging year posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone, Christians and people of other faiths, are naturally looking forward to welcoming a brand new year — 2021 — in four days’ time.

In Sarawak, the pandemic has caused extensive damages to the economy. Many businesses, big and small, have to struggle to stay afloat and workers who are laid off have to find other ways to put food on the table.

2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox which will start on Feb 12 (Chinese Lunar New Year Day) and last until Jan 30, 2021.

There is much to look forward to in the coming new year. For instance, Covid-19 vaccines will be available in Malaysia, including Sarawak.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced vaccine access for 30 percent of the population at the beginning of next year.

The final decision on the vaccines will, however, be done after they are registered and approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency under the Health Ministry.

Malaysia has so far signed two agreements to secure enough supply of Covid-19 vaccines for 30 percent of the population.

The first pact was with the global Covax Facility through the Optional Purchase agreement, signed on Nov 23, which guarantees a vaccine supply for 10 percent of the population. The second pact was an initial purchase agreement with Pfizer, inked on Nov 24, to provide the vaccine supply for 20 percent of the population (12.8 million doses).

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian has pointed out that the process of administering Covid-19 vaccinations has to be systematic and according to criteria.
“We are waiting to hear from the Health Ministry about the criteria. Even in the United Kingdom, they have their criteria,” he said recently.

The United States of America has started vaccinating its citizens. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines submitted to American states recommend that the nation’s 21 million healthcare workers should be prioritised first plus the three million elderly Americans living in care homes.

But just last week, White House officials and big names in the Senate and House of Representatives were lining up to get the Covid-19 vaccine — in front of the TV cameras and on social media, purportedly to build confidence among the sceptical public.

Keeping these politicians healthy is deemed as a national issue but some Americans have pointed out that they should step aside for the healthcare workers and elderly folk.

Even if the Covid-19 vaccines are available in Sarawak and you can line up for them, Dr Sim said physical distancing and face masks were still required.

“A vaccine just means you are less likely to get infected or if you do get infected, it is less severe. But you still need 70 percent of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Otherwise, the community does not have enough protection and can still get infected,” he explained.

One thing’s definite … the availability of vaccines means fewer lives will be lost all over the world.

I said at the beginning of this article, I am hoping for a great new year. I am not an ambitious person, so a great year to me means one where things are well, especially health wise and career wise, for myself personally, close family members and friends. Good health is important to having a good life. Without good health, we have nothing.

A good career, on the other hand, offers us fulfilment personally and professionally.

Now, it’s time for me to touch on 2021, the Year of the Metal Ox. Do you know that the Ox occupies the second position in the Chinese zodiac? The 12 zodiac animals are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

In the Chinese Zodiac, the ox is very hardworking and hence, 2021 will be a year when work will get rewarded.

According to chinesezodiac.org, zodiac persons who are lucky in terms of money this year will be those who work hard. So, let us all work hard for a great year, my friend.

Before I sign off, I wish you all a great 2021!