An emigrant’s pandemic: Covid took our livelihood away and laid waste to our plans

Early on Malaysia coped well. But the situation is much worse than it was a year ago

In February 2020 my wife and I moved to Penang from the island of Langkawi, where we had run a tourism-related business for the previous twelve years. We intended to continue running the same business in Penang, but we had barely unpacked when the pandemic hit and laid waste to those plans and took our livelihood away. I lost my main writing job due to cutbacks. Fortunately, we had some savings.

Early on Malaysia coped quite well with the pandemic, mostly thanks to very strict lockdowns. But a combination of political and economic instability has led to the situation becoming much worse now than it was a year ago. The vaccine supply hasn't been able to match the demand. There have been several Covid-19 cases in our building.

For most of the pandemic we haven’t been permitted to travel beyond a 10km radius, never mind leave the country. We shop for groceries once or twice a month. Beyond that we rarely leave our apartment.

I’ve been spending my days reading, writing, practising music, doing a little yoga. I took an online Tefl course and I’ve completed Duolingo’s Hindi course, twice. Now I’m on to German.


Thankfully we have recently been vaccinated, but unfortunately there is no possibility of us reviving our business anytime in the near future. Our savings are finite and we are facing some very tough choices.