You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.  

– Joel Osteen, American pastor, televangelist and author

Last Sunday, the armed forces were deployed to help police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO), which has been extended to April 14. Hopefully, no further extension is required but, in any case, our lives will never be the same again. Let me start off with myself.

As an industry writer, trainer and consultant, I can continue writing and sharing using a laptop with Wi-Fi connection. I write for clients that include non-governmental organisations and corporations. I have also written for government agencies and ghost writing for individuals, but those days are gone.

I am not a good writer, but my articles are interesting enough to be published more than 2,000 times by major newspaper and websites because the editors could tell my writings are based on my interpretation of common issues and practical solutions. Writing provides me a source of income and I get to express and share my thoughts.

But I must rule out training and consultancy in the coming months. Training has been suspended nationwide as it involves a group of people seated near to each other the whole day within the confines of an air-conditioned room.

I am a trainer for three programmes by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac). The two-day Travel and Tours Management Course is meant for successful applicants of new licences for Tour Operating Business and Travel Agency Business (Tobtab).

The one-day Travel and Tours Enhancement Course is also compulsory for travel agents and tour operators to attend to renew the Tobtab licence. And the optional one-day Mesra Malaysia course for frontliners in all tourism sectors that include hospitality and retail.

My sympathy goes to all trainers certified by Motac, particularly those ready and eager to conduct Mesra Malaysia nationwide in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020, as the campaign had been called off, rightly, by Motac Minister Datuk Seri Hajah Nancy Shukri on March 18.

Effective training can make a huge difference for many participants. In 1999, I used the tagline “Spend a day with me, it can change your life forever!” for marketing Malaysia Host, another training programme under the Tourism Ministry.

In 2011, I developed and conducted the Courteous Malaysian workshop. The training requires all participants to share their thoughts and feelings and many of them wept as they were overcome with guilt and the desire to be much more courteous.

In 2018, I developed and conducted Contingency Plans workshops in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur but was discontinued as demand was poor. Safety and security ought to be top priority in every organisation but instead of safety first, it was more like safety last.

When our country is returning to normalcy again, the most suitable course to be conducted would be Tourism Torchbearers, as those trained can help boost domestic tourism, which is sorely needed to revive the flagging local economy of many towns and villages.

I am ruling out consultancy service as even during the best of times, few company bosses were willing to pay an external consultant the equivalent of one month’s salary of a junior staff for some work that could boost the company’s profits.

In 1998, I was an exhibitor in the Matta Fair held at the Mines International Exhibition & Convention Centre near Kuala Lumpur and had the good fortune of having the owner coming to my business and training consultancy booth.

Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew looked at my signage and asked me, “How good are you?” I responded, “We are the best!” in such gusto that I could not repeat it to this day. It was so convincing that it earned me a five-figure appointment fee as consultant although I was then starting out as a one-man show.

Throughout my life, I have met many benefactors who have given me opportunities which I am forever grateful. Although I do not own a house or car, I get to live comfortably and drive about, and should be able to tide over the coming months.

But many people may not be so lucky, especially those in the bottom 40 percent or B40, which could soon be expanded to B60 as most middle-income earners will be in dire straits when thrown out of jobs and saddled with financial commitments.

Hopefully, there will be less politicking that brings no benefit to the rakyat. The government of the day should amass all resources to overcome the pandemic and stimulate the economy, so that every worker in this country, including foreigners, can continue earning a living.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.