|Thank you Malaysia, from a Malaysian bumiputera (left) and a UK 'bumiputera' (right).|
Here's another contribution from my Anglo-Scots spouse. The last time, he expressed his dismay at the blatant ignorance of some expatriate Malaysians about their country's health system:
But this time he's a lot more cheerful!
We had a marvellous experience on Monday 7 June, at the Putera World Trade Centre. Actually, it was something we'd been expecting for weeks, nervously, fearfully, full of deep, dark forebodings. I won't say we were both nervous wrecks when we arrived there - but we were pretty close to it.
We had our vaccine appointments, and we weren't looking forward to them: perhaps we'd be turned away because both of us had underlying health issues; perhaps we'd be waiting for hours in the sun; perhaps the organization would be chaotic and we'd be chasing our tails. Perhaps we'd have terrible after effects. Perhaps the sky would fall on our heads.
Well, nothing like that happened. And this is the story.
We arrived early, and the security men at the entrance were paragons of courtesy and helpfulness. We were directed immediately to the Special Needs section (although we didn't ask to be), and from then on we were guided by ushers, both uniformed and not to the registration desk deep on the ground floor of the building. These two late-septuagenarians were treated like royalty. But so too were all the other elderly souls who were arriving for treatment. For once, it felt good to be old.
We were cleared for vaccination by a volunteer called Puteri. Puteri is a Pisces lass completing a Masters course in Computer Engineering at UITM. She had been working at that desk for almost a month, from 8 o'clock in the morning to 10 o'clock at night, and she was still as fresh and cheerful as a daisy. She talked us through our consent forms, and filled two of them in for us because we'd completed them wrongly. She checked Maznoor's particular drug allergies with a medical colleague, and told us she'd be held back at the end for a longer observation. Just in case. She was a model of cheerful concern.
Then we were guided to Dr Zafirah. Dr Zafirah is a doctor at KLIA international airport. She too had been working at her PWTC desk for almost a month. She too was lively, attentive, and enormously helpful. She reassured Maznoor about her allergies and her medication, and the look of relief on Maznoor's face was a joy to behold. Then she went through my various problems: she reassured me about the danger of bloot clots, with some well-chosen medical facts and figures; and she clearly knew plenty about one of the rarer blood disorders - haemachromatosis - which I happened to suffer from. Dr Zafirah, too, was a model of cheerful concern: she was clearly a lady of sound medical training, deeply and widely informed, with an excellent bedside manner and a wonderful sense of humour as well. She, just like Puteri, was a pleasure to meet.
From Dr Zafirah we went straight to the desk in front for our vaccination. It was quick, straightforward, and painless - and the lady who did it held up the syringe so we could measure its contents, just as she'd done 200-300 times every day. She was sweet and efficient and said little - and I shall always regret that I don't have her name. After all, without the people who put in the needles, the entire programme would fail. Please, dear lady, accept my apologies. You did an important job to perfection.
Finally, for our clearance papers, we went to see Pirin. Pirin had just finished at Medical School in Kedah and was waiting for a hospital placement. Like all the others, Pirin was attentive and solicitous. She checked us out just as lunchtime arrived, and when we were finished she personally led us to the exit and helped us take our souvenir photo.
The entire process, from start to finish - and including half an hour's monitoring at the end - took just over one hour. Every worker we met was a gem. From the security men to the ushers to the people at the desks - there was not a single unhelpful person. And not the briefest delay.
There's a moral in this story. Here was a major logistical operation, to address a critical situation in the health of the country - and it went off without a hitch. Yes,of course, as elderly people we were favoured, and younger people might have to wait a bit longer. But surely one measure of a good society is how the elderly are treated. There are other measures: for example, how all the components of government and "civil society" come together in a crisis; how "front-liners" acquire and apply their skills; and how courtesy is made part of the job.
In all these respects, and judging by what happened to Maznoor and I, Malaysia has a lot to be proud of. And so do all those "front-liners" and volunteers we met on Monday at the Putera World Trade Centre. A very necessary job, and a job excellently done.
Congratulations and thank you from two elderly admirers.
It only goes to show, doesn't it, that Penang and Singapore aren't the only places where things are done properly!