Coffee Break: Meet the different types of crazies

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 10, 2020 - February 16, 2020.
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If you observe carefully, there are several types of crazies on the loose in Malaysia now. They usually look just like you and me, normal people going about their everyday life.

But some weird characters — eyes delirious with paranoia and behaving like the fictional character Gollum — tend to emerge when they come near certain people or objects. Here, I present a non-exhaustive list of crazies that can be seen on social media and in real life.


Crazy #1:

Someone in the office sniffles and lets out a sneeze. Panic starts to set in among a certain group of colleagues (aunties … it’s always the aunties) as they hastily put on surgical masks even though they are seated about 10ft away from the “sneezer”.

“Aiyer! Sneeze already why come to the office! Wah! You see. Cough some more! Is he trying to kill us all???”

They exclaim, they gossip, they stare daggers at the victim, they sanitise their hands every five minutes. But, nope, no one offers a face mask or hot tea to the poor soul who might just be having the common cold.


Crazy #2:

A customer walks into a pharmacy and tells the pharmacist: “I want 10 boxes of face masks.”

When the pharmacist politely explains that the item is out of stock because the kiasu fellow before him had wiped all the shelves clean of face masks, the customer launches into a torrent of abuse at the pharmacist.

“How can this *bleep* pharmacy not have even a single *bleep* face mask?! Don’t you know there is a GLOBAL HEALTH EMERGENCY!”

“Well, sir, like I mentioned earlier, someone walked in before you and bought up all the face masks we had. Would you like to check our storeroom?”


Crazy #3:

Healthy man and woman sitting in their own vehicle with the windows up and the aircon turned on … with face masks on.

Prevention against self? Enough said.


Crazy #4:

“My Precioussss!” (said with eyes gleaming in delight).

Friends, acquaintances or random people gleefully show off on social media the boxes of surgical masks and hand sanitisers they have managed to purchase after visiting 10 pharmacies in town.

The truth is that only 10% of the sanitisers and masks purchased will be used. The remaining 90% will be forgotten, shoved somewhere in a corner of the house.


Crazy #5:

“Sign this petition! Send them back. Send them ALLLLL BACK!”

A petition to send Chinese nationals back to China circulates on social media, getting likes, signatures and snide comments about China.

Of course, some of these are exaggerated examples to illustrate how, despite having the technology at our disposal to fact-check, many still choose to live in the dark ages.

There is no denying that the Wuhan virus and the number of lives it has claimed in China and elsewhere are worrying. There have been 12 positive cases reported in Malaysia as at last Friday — 10 Chinese nationals and two Malaysians.

Instead of contributing to the craziness, how about just taking the precaution of washing your hands or sanitising where washing is unavailable, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and refraining from touching wild animals?

Let’s be civil and keep our wits about us. And we could check our facts before circulating any form of news about the virus. Say “no” to dodgy WhatsApp messages. Instead, check on reputable websites such as (forgive the shameless plug) for legi­timate updates.

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