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The youngest son of Hani Bin Sha'ari looks at photos of his father at the family home in Sungai Rambai, Malaysia, on Oct. 25. 

The youngest son of Hani Bin Sha'ari looks at photos of his father at the family home in Sungai Rambai, Malaysia, on Oct. 25. 

Photographer: Ian Teh/Bloomberg

Technology
The Big Take

The World’s Relentless Demand for Chips Turns Deadly in Malaysia

While companies and governments push to keep supply chains running, ordinary people are the ones putting their lives at risk.

Hani Bin Sha’ari spent more than two decades rising through the ranks at STMicroelectronics NV’s facility in Malaysia. He prided himself on working hard to provide for his wife and four children. So when the chip plant remained open through a spike in Covid-19 infections this year, he kept doing his job.

Then one July morning, the 43-year-old woke up with a fever. His wife Nancy took him to a local clinic, requesting a coronavirus test because of infections at the plant. The results came back positive. Hani was soon quarantined in a hospital. He lost so much weight he started avoiding video calls so he wouldn’t alarm his family. When the couple spoke by phone later, Hani was out of breath and she urged him to rest. It was their last conversation.