By Lim Kit Siang
OUR country is struggling between bringing the third COVID-19 wave – the longest in the world – under control.
Everybody is scared that Malaysia may go the way of India, where a second wave has created apocalyptic horrors, with grim scenes of people dying in hospital corridors, roads and homes.
Car parks have been turned into cremation grounds while desperate families scramble to find oxygen tanks, medicines and hospital beds.
The one-day national sigh of relief because Malaysia’s infection rate fell below the 3,000-mark yesterday showed us that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Today, India crashed through the 20 million mark for cumulative total of COVID-19 cases, and if this rate continues, India may overtake the US (presently has a cumulative total of over 33 million cases) by the end of June as the world’s No. 1 country with the most number of cases.
Malaysia must learn from India’s mistakes. In the first place, there is no reason for Malaysia to have a cumulative total 417,512 cases to be ranked number 43 among nations in the world with the most number of COVID-19 cases.
Why is Malaysia ranked number 43 and have more infections cases while other countries in East Asia, Asean and Asia Pacific have lower ranking and fewer cases like Myanmar (No. 82), South Korea (84), China (96), Thailand (99), Singapore (104), Australia (120), Cambodia (133), Hong Kong (145), Vietnam (176), New Zealand (178), Taiwan (192), Laos (195) and Brunei (201)?
On that note, we need to learn a lesson from the Government’s move to remove the AstraZeneca vaccine and made it an opt-in choice for the public because of “vaccine hesitancy” over the UK-manufactured vaccine.
The 260,000 appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine were taken up in three hours.
The Government must learn from its mistakes in war against the pandemic – and one of lessons it must learn is that its communication was a disaster.
This stemmed from its failure to spearhead an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy approach, which resulted in it taking the false route to combat the pandemic, like the declaration of an Emergency and the suspension of Parliament.
Will the kakistocratic Government now return to the proper route, which is to end the Emergency and to reconvene Parliament immediately?
The overwhelming majority of Malaysians support efforts to bring COVID-19 under control, but the measures must be practical, fair and just, with its implementation even-handed without double standards.
I support the call by the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) that enforcement authorities should adopt a consultative approach when it comes to penalising those who do not comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP), starting with a stern warning if an enterprise is caught infringing the SOP the first time, instead of the maximum RM50,000 compound fine. – May 4, 2021.
Lim Kit Siang is the MP for Iskandar Puteri
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.