Saturday, May 08, 2021

Why HIDE is doing more harm than good

Kuala Lumpur, 8 May 2021: My Italian friend who runs a restaurant in Bangsar Shopping Centre must be fuming with HIDE, the latest fancy initiative introduced by this Government to deal with the rising cases of Covid-19. And he has good reasons to be mad. Just last Friday, on the shortest of notices, his restaurant was told to stop dine-ins until May 23. Only take-aways are allowed under the new MCO 3.0. As if that wasn't bad enough, this morning the de facto Vaccine Minister, YB Khairy Jamaluddin told people to avoid BSC because the mall was a future Covid-19 hotspot. 

How the hell does he know that BSC will be a Covid-19 pandemic hotspot soon? 

Well, KJ is relying on intel provided by HIDE, which stands for Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement under the Health Ministry. What HIDE does is generate on a daily basis a list of predicted hotspot premises.This list will be published by MoH to facilitate self-regulation by the general public and businesses. HIDE is based on big data analytics and artificial intelligence, an official statement says. It leverages MySejahtera check-ins and other existing healthcare databases to make its predictions.

How reliable is HIDE's prediction? Well, I have my doubts. For starters, I find it odd that HIDE has listed Bangsar Village ll as a potential hotspot in its maiden list but not Bangsar Village l when both these malls are actually one, linked on the first floor by a skybridge that is not even manned by MySejahtera. Similarly, Gardens and Mid-Valley. 

Will the HIDE list be effective? Yes, 100%, it will feed on people's fears and drive them away from the premises named on the HIDE list. These people will, naturally, head for alternative premises which are not on the HIDE list because they are being told it's safer to do so.

The  question is, is it fair to penalize those on HIDE list when they are NOT even actual or active clusters? 

In BSC alone, there are over 150 shops, restaurants, and services, all suffering since the first MCO in March 2020.  Many including big names La Bodega and Chilis have closed down because of the pandemic. No thanks to HIDE, each and every one of these businesses, including my Italian friend's restaurant, will suffer even more.

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