Being Prime Minister of Bangladesh today could not be easy. It would have to be the loneliest, most demanding and most challenging job
Coronavirus Covid-19 has given us the rare opportunity of being heroes to our nation without ever (and hopefully never) engaging with the enemy
If Coronavirus were a vitamin and not a virus, it would have a mass, unprecedented fan following and invited into everyone’s bloodstream based on its handsome movie star good looks alone.
It’s incomprehensible to image something that looks so beautiful, handsome and perfect in form – or at least projected by the medical science to be – can be so menacing and deadly.
Its pictorial representation would enhance any child’s bedroom wall immeasurably, expand the child’s imagination enormously, and transport the child on nightly galactic voyages to seek out new life and new civilizations where no man has gone before except, perhaps, in Star Trek!
The cold facts, however, remain we are not dealing with a work of fiction and Coronavirus Covid-19 not a nightmare, from which we will wake up in a sweat, and thank God aloud that’s all it was. It’s not the cinematic masterwork of Stephen King or Martin Scorsese and suchlike that chills us to the bone, but two hours later we re-join the comfort zone of reality.
Coronavirus Covid-19 is the reality of the NOW and something we have to deal with in the NOW. Never before in the history of the world has man encountered such a powerful invisible enemy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2003 a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Of these, 774 died. By today’s Coronavirus comparison, that’s a drop in the ocean.... and the counting of corpses still continue.
Philosopher George Santayana once said: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
SARS was the warning shot for the world to sit up, pay attention, and prepare its defences should the virus launch another attack in a different disguise. South Korea, the country worst hit by the SARS, wisely had prepared its defences.
When Coronavirus Covid-19 made its Pearl Harbour a surprise attack South Korea went into defence mode and ran far more tests per capita than any other country: nearly 10 times more than in the UK. Its sensible, intelligent approach resulted in a very low mortality rate, below 1%.
While a 1% mortality rate is remarkable, there’s a strong possibility there would have been none if China/WHO had sounded the alarm when it should have. South Korea was sufficiently prepared, if given warning.
Fingers of blame are pointing at the Government of China and at WHO and overseas a tabloid newspaper mentality is entering into the horrific tapestry of desecration, death and destruction, which is of no help.
Does it really matter who is to blame at this point in time? There are far more important issues to be addressed. People are still dying daily and deaths will continue for some time to come. It is the prevention of deaths the focus should be on and not some silly, meaningless and petty hot-air tiffs between China and Trump that only serve the purpose of distraction.
In normal times, people worldwide are easily distracted by sporting events like cricket, football and other insignificant activities that in the end amount to nothing while their governments and business leaders are busy in the background siphoning off billions of dollars to off-shore accounts desecrating the future of the nation.
There’s a city in Ireland called Kilkenny. Its residents are fondly nicknamed ‘Kilkenny Cats’. The story goes, when British ruler Oliver Cromwell was marching through the city (1649–50) with his troops on one of his destructive missions he was momentarily distracted by two cats fighting each other.
Not being a cat lover (I guess) and an evil man (I guess) he tied both of them by their tails hanging from a lamppost. Although their predicament had worsened considerably, they still continued to raucously squabble and claw mercilessly at each other!
We can be as silly as the Kilkenny Cats (the animals, not the people!) and ignore the real dangers of the Coronavirus spreading and creating even greater havoc or we can take every precaution to minimise the possibility of being one of its victims.
When the Coronavirus Covid-19 has run its course, there is no doubt many governments and individual powerful people will collapse as a result of not doing what’s right now.
Some politicians will emerge as heroes who did all in their power to support and help the people in their greatest hour of need while others will be revealed as the fast-taking, insincere flim-flam villains that they are and have always been.
Only now, however, have the people had the time to pause, think about them, appraise their deeds, or misdeeds, and properly and accurately measure their contribution to their wellbeing.
While governments throughout the world are not being blamed for the Coronavirus pandemic (with the exception of one) ALL will be held accountable should it, or similar, ever happen ever again.
More than ever before we need to take responsibility for our own lives, trust no one, and take every precaution to ensure we are not inadvertently endangering the lives of others as carriers.
Every schoolchild in Bangladesh would have entertained the thought, even if only briefly, of becoming Prime Minister. The pomp, glory and ceremony of taking fly-past salutes from the elite Bangladesh air force and having 5,000 perfectly discipline soldiers give salute; or entertaining royalty, world leaders, and celebrities would be their dreams come true. How many, I wonder, harbour such thoughts now?
Being Prime Minister of Bangladesh today could not be easy. It would have to be the loneliest, most demanding and most challenging job.
As never before most inhabitants of Bangladesh (including me) are reliant on every move Sheikh Hasina and her government now makes. I pray to Allah all her decisions will be infused the wisdom of King Solomon for the benefit of all.
To say there is little we can offer Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in support is not entirely true. Apart from our prayers, washing our hands regularly, keeping social distance, staying at home, avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth and prevent ourselves from catching or transmitting the deadly virus is a massive worthwhile contribution to make; to ourselves, loved ones, and nation. What she doesn’t need is acts of stupidity from the people and ill advise from her advisers.
Coronavirus Covid-19 has given us the rare opportunity of being heroes to our nation without ever (and hopefully never) engaging with the enemy.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, an humanitarian, a foreign friend of Bangladesh and a royal goodwill ambassador. <[email protected]>