By Rama Ramanathan

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Nathaniel Tan is fasting to get our attention. He’s fasting from food, alone. He’s fasting in a tent he’s set up on a five-foot way outside a shop in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, KL. He began fasting on Wednesday, 4th of August.

I’ve never met Nat. I know him through a group he facilitates, called Projek Bangsa Malaysia. And through articles about deaths in custody he’s published in Malaysiakini. He’s probably around thirty years old.

He’s a kind, intelligent, caring person. He’s devoted himself to helping others and building community during this pandemic. I know from what I’ve seen of him in the Projek Bangsa Malaysia group which he initiated and actively and very respectfully facilitates.

I was very surprised when he suddenly announced that he’d begun his fast. But I’m not surprised by the responses of his family and friends. They didn’t scold him for jumping in without giving advance notice and without engaging them. They jumped in quickly and deeply to help him.

Why do they respond in this way to him? Because they know what drives him. They know he’s sincere. He’s not doing this to promote himself.

He’s said he’s Oh! So frustrated! He’s fed up with the politicians who’re fighting to retain power or to return to power. He’s terrified by the deaths which are going to result from the Covid Delta variant. He says the government must do 5 key things to address the escalating crisis.

One, hand over decision making power to experts, or convene parliament.

Two, allocate RM500 million to meet medical needs in hospitals.

Three, let frontliners reveal what’s really happening and publish all COVID-19 data.

Four, publish a full list of all businesses which are permitted to operate.

Five, supply N95 masks and sanitisers to all hospitals and police stations.

His message is: Things are not under control. Death is coming. Resist. He asks us to send money for hospitals, to either of these accounts:

IDEAS BERHAD, CIMB Account #8001367104, Reference: Hospital Fund.

TZU CHI COVID SOLIDARITY FUND, Maybank Account #512491125866.