Frontliners have become our unsung heroes since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Healthcare and civil workers, as well as law enforcement officers are among those who have dedicated their lives to protecting us in these times of great uncertainty.

Mohd Roslan Mohd Tahir, a PhD (Arts) candidate at Open University Malaysia (OUM), can be seen performing his duties on the streets of Iskandar Puteri, Johor, since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented on 18 March.

The 52-year-old heads the Nusa Bestari Police Station at Iskandar Puteri District Police Headquarters. He is among 11,000 Johorean police officers who have been deployed state-wide for the MCO.

“On regular days, I am usually involved in the day-to-day administration of the station,” Mohd Roslan explains. “That includes managing my staff, keeping an eye on crime as well as maintaining relations with the community.

“But the COVID-19 outbreak has changed that. On top of my regular tasks, I also join other officers in conducting roadblocks and monitoring hotels that have been turned into quarantine centres for the pandemic.”

While the job is tough, Mohd Roslan is no stranger to making sacrifices and multitasking. He enrolled at OUM in 2016. Since then, he has had first-hand experience studying part-time while juggling a demanding job and personal responsibilities at home.

The father-of-four made frequent trips from the southern state to Kuala Lumpur to attend seminars and meet with his supervisors. Having completed his thesis, Mohd Roslan is now almost at the end of his study.

“My viva voce session took place in early February and I’m proud to say I am the first in this programme to have passed!” he shares.

When asked why he chose the PhD (Arts) programme, Mohd Roslan says, “I already had a suitable research proposal in mind, and it was one that would allow me to contribute something useful to the police force.

“OUM became my university of choice because of its flexible and learner-friendly system as well as its affordable fees.”

The Temerloh-born Assistant Superintendent of Police realises his job has become even more critical during this outbreak.

“There is a segment of society that has yet to understand the dangers of the virus or the importance of abiding by the MCO,” he says. “My officers and I have made more than 150 arrests since 18 March, which goes to show the importance of having situational awareness.”

A 30-year veteran officer, Mohd Roslan empathises with regular folk, but cautions that Malaysians need to prepare for a difficult future.

“We must brace for a challenging scenario once this health scare is over,” he advises. “In Johor specifically, I foresee a unique and significant socio-economic challenge as it is not only locals who will be affected, but the 400,000 Malaysians who previously commuted daily for their jobs in Singapore. So many people might find themselves jobless.”

Nevertheless, Mohd Roslan is optimistic about the future and looking forward to become the first PhD (Arts) graduate from OUM.

“I hope my efforts will lead to a promotion and the knowledge I’ve gained will steer the police force towards a more modern approach in keeping Malaysia safe,” he concludes.

Learn more about the PhD (Arts) programme here!