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Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst

Soapbox: Publisher's Perspective | 1 April 2020

Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst

"Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst."

Not bad advice living in a city like Jakarta, which seems to be improving as it evolves into a world megacity, but slips quite easily and naturally into chaos as soon as difficulties arise.

And here we are again, ready and prepared to cope with serious challenges because we are very good at ‘ostrich solutions’. Put your head in the sand as danger approaches because if you can’t see it then it surely won’t notice you! Sadly we couldn’t see the corona virus Covid-19 even when we were looking for it—but we weren’t. We were absolutely convinced that somehow it would pass Indonesia by. China, okay, that’s where it started. Japan, unfortunate. Singapore, pity. Italy, wow, how did that happen? Iran, of course, bound to happen… but Indonesia? No….. we think the virus dies at 26/27 degrees, right? And no one from any of those countries ever comes here do they?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is the best possible place for a highly infectious, virulent, nasty little bug to come on holiday. Wet, moist, warm conditions and lots of people packed together in buses, microlets, warungs, houses, narrow allleys, offices, factories and restaurants. People who love touching, holding hands, kissing (even the men!) and of course worship together cheek to jowl.

We needed a warning light to flash in January, a klaxon to screech in February and a total media blast at the beginning of March together with immediate, strict disciplinary measures in place at stages one, two and three. But we got no warnings, no instructions and no precautions until very late in the game!

So now what to do? “Work from home,” says our President, which is good advice for those who can, but difficult for those who work in hotels, or restaurants, or hospitals, or as security, or cleaners, or factories, or well, just about everything except office workers! We at Phoenix Communications went home, loaded with computers and files, and have tried to comply with the President’s request to do ‘social distancing’, but honestly, it’s not enough when people are still whizzing around on Grabs & Gojek’s and even when declared ill have to take public transport to the assigned hospitals!

We were not prepared back then in January. We are not prepared as I write this. Maybe we will be by the time you read it. But perhaps we will be preparing for something for more serious by then. Frankly I think that is very likely. Failing to plan is planning to fail. And we have succeeded mightily, with massive floods and now potential disease, and who knows what else to come.