By Idawati Md Shukor
I JUST want to share a story which I think deserves more attention, especially during such gloomy times with COVID-19 still around us. I run a small travel agency in Petaling Jaya, with only four staffs, including a husband-and-wife team.
As most of us know, the travel industry was hard hit due to the pandemic. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have made tourism next to impossible. Business screeched to a halt.
At first, we thought the movement control order (MCO) would only be temporary, like maybe for a period of three months. However, as the number of COVID-19 cases rose, the travel restrictions continued. This has caused the company’s reserves to deplete and everyone was in low spirits.
We were on the verge of letting go of our staff. They were horrified when they heard the company was considering that option, including the couple mentioned above, as the wife just found out she was pregnant then.
But then we heard about the Government’s Wage Subsidy Programme. Upon further checks, our company qualified and the online application was quite easy. Not long after, we were informed that our application has been accepted.
Although it was not a big amount but it helped keep us afloat. We negotiated for new terms with the employees, including work from home (WFH) arrangements and reduced working hours, but all our staffs were able to keep their jobs. Whatever income they received over the months helped tide them over difficult times.
The female staff finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl in January. I reminded the couple that if not for the wage subsidy, the baby could have been born to unemployed parents.
And when they asked me what to name her, I jokingly said “Sue” (full name withheld for privacy reason). “Sue” rhymes with “PSU”, the Malay acronym for Program Subsidi Upah (PSU) which had helped them through the tough times. To my surprise, the couple agreed!
I have related this story to a few of my friends and they find it to be uplifting. They have also urged me to share this story with more people so that we can spread positivity all around, at a time of gloom and despair. – April 6, 2021
Idawati Md Shukor is from Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Photo credit: University of Manchester