The outbreak of the coronavirus is seen to have lasting detriment to the global economy.In small Malaysian neighbourhoods, we are already beginning to see the effects of the pandemic on the hawker community.
Local businesses have already long taken to social media to plead with the nation for their support during these times. Small time entrepreneurs simply don’t have copious amounts of reserve to sustain themselves throughout such circumstances unlike larger conglomerates. The lasting effects of COVID-19 are already beginning to take form, threatening to sweep countries into an upcoming recession that will affect all.
However, this economic downturn has already begun in each and every one of our communities.
On the 29th of March 2020, filmmaker Gary Chong took to Facebook to share his heart wrenching conversation with his neighbourhood chicken rice uncle.
The post quickly surpassed 3000 shares, garnering national traction.
“This morning I experienced first hand, a distinct sector of society which has slipped under the radar. Or at least which has brought me to my knees in re-evaluating my role as a citizen in my community,” he wrote.
“And that sector is our local neighbourhood coffee shop hawker and gerai makan.”
Placing an order for some chicken rice, the 33-year-old struck up a conversation with the chicken rice vendor.
“While going about his usual way of preparation, he (chicken rice seller) started lamenting that his daily sales now are only around RM140 but he has to open the shop from 7am to 11pm,” he explained.
Chong discovered that the man has been working 16 hours a day just to make RM100 to RM180 a day.
“He continued that if the business went on for two more weeks like this, he would go out of business.”
“His next response shocked me. He begged me to come back and buy from him for dinner… in which he then gave me extra meat in my packets, in the hopes that would seal the deal and I would come back that night”
“Perhaps it is time to play our roles as citizens of our local communities, where we can show some love to our local hawkers who are stuck with no choice, by helping them through this time of crisis by making it a point to tapau and bungkus from them,” he continued in his post.
He suggested steps on how to make this happen:
1. As a family, pick out your regular hawker stall around your neighbourhood.
2. Get your head of the household to swing by and check whether they are open during one of his/her grocery runs.
3. If they are open, drop by, and buy some breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
4. Give them a little bit of encouragement by having some small talk or conversation with them to brighten up their day.
“Your single action today, albeit how small your takeaway order might be, will be able to alter the course of destiny for each of these hawkers who are in this period of distress, need us to show our solidarity as Rakyat Malaysia and practise the evergreen and holy virtue of ‘Loving Your Neighbour’.”
Chong’s post lit a Malaysian match that sparked notions of empathy amongst the e-world.
Let us all come together to help one another. There is no more pressing time for a sense of solidarity through community. Remember, Malaysia Boleh.
What else can we do to support our community in these times? Let us know in the comment section below!
Header Image : Foodie KL