To gain an understanding into how Malaysians fared during the Movement Control Order (MCO) decreed to slow the spread of Covid-19, Think City conducted the You OK or Not During MCO community survey across demographics mirroring the intricate make-up of the country.
The Khazanah Nasional think tank has been the driving force behind various large-scale urban renewal projects in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru. Among their initiatives are Art Printing Works, Armenian Park and Kwai Chai Hong. The survey was framed around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, a canon of economics which addresses people’s basic, physiological and spiritual needs, among others. A total of 2,240 reponses deemed usable were compiled between May 15 and May 23.
According to Dr Matt Benson, programme director of Think City, who devised the survey over a period of three weeks, the survey results provide good base data that they can use to gauge how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Malaysians in the months ahead. It also offers some insights into those groups who are most likely to be affected economically, namely the self-employed and those working in the arts, hospitality and entertainment. The results also indicate that those aged between 15 and 25 years are more likely to be impacted financially and emotionally in the long term, and existing youth programmes may need to be expanded.
The full set of results can be accessed here and we have gathered seven findings from the survey that may pique your interest.
We missed dining out as restaurants edged out shopping malls
Over 70% of all respondents lamented the absence of eating out at restaurants as pizzerias, steakhouses and restobars were absolutely off limits to dine-ins. This is followed by the favourite weekend endeavour of shopping (over 40%). As e-commerce swelled on demands of face masks, hand sanitisers and anything else that could be checked into the digital pushcart, it was the warm ambience and stirring shop windows of brick-and-mortar retail that they supplicated. Significant coveys cited they missed going to cinemas, parks and beaches, and perhaps predictably in times of solace – places of worship.
Time spent with loved ones and oneself
Seeking contentment as we cooped up in our homes, the majority of respondents below 35 years old (over 50%) revelled at the increased interactions with loved ones – commensurate with sparing time for their own hobbies (over 50%). Online activities (over 30%) in the form of online entertainment, social media and the Internet also fostered one’s wellbeing, ahead of exercising (over 20%).
Did we sleep better?
While most rested just as well as pre-MCO and a small percentage found improvement even, around a quarter of those below 35 years old experienced worsened quality of sleep. While these weren’t clinically proven to be direct causes, the next finding revealed that around half below the above age threshold were overwhelmed, bored, frustrated and lonely during the MCO. Only 42% and 34% under the age of 35 tasted tranquility and happiness respectively.
The new normal
27% of all respondents opined that the pandemic would fundamentally impact social interaction for the next 10 years – unsurprising as handshakes and cheek kisses as rules of greeting etiquette would mortify anyone right now and people are still compelled to observe social distancing. The percentage was comparable to those who voiced their concerns about the state of the economy (27%) and, albeit negligibly less, the shift of technology (24%).
Personal growth as the economy contracts
Nearly 60% of all respondents confided that they had undergone some degree of self and home improvement. It seems they might have taken heed of the many DIY, life hack and culinary videos mushrooming on Tik Tok. Around 18% learned the importance of family, and communal and spiritual support. Just over 8% spoke about the efficacious effect of the MCO on health and hygiene. Face masks, anyone?
Part-time teachers and part-time cooks
When schools were closed and classrooms cordoned off, teaching took to Zoom and Skype. Parents who were often sheltered from such responsibilities thanks to dedicated teachers inadvertently found themselves having to supervise their children, ensuring that they pay attention to lessons, while juggling the famous three initials WFH. About 22% of fathers and mothers were concerned about balancing work and childcare, while 28.4% of fathers fretted over assisting their children with studies – more than mothers (23.6%) who were more preoccupied with feeding their loved ones (18.9% vs 11.5%).
Coming through with a sense of achievement
Although there was somewhat of a marginal difference among age groups, around a quarter of all respondents were most proud of their personal growth, relationships with their families, new skills acquired, respectively during the lockdown. There were, however, those who didn’t come away with any achievement (between 12% and 16% for those below 35). It is never too late to try.