Emergency: A cover for PM’s failure in containing COVID-19

By Lim Guan Eng

 

PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has lost all political and moral legitimacy to represent Malaysians as the premier following the withdrawal of support of three Umno MPs, resulting in the loss of his Parliamentary majority.

Instead, he responded swiftly by declaring a state of Emergency on Tuesday to suspend Parliament and the state assemblies, using the pretext of a spike in COVID- 19 infections.

A national Emergency is not needed to stop by-elections, which has already been postponed by the declaration of Emergency in the local area.

As for a general election or the Sarawak state elections, there is still time because the term of office for Parliament and Sarawak State Assembly ends in 2023 and June 5, 2021, respectively.

Ironically, it is Muhyiddin’s Government’s mishandling and mismanagement of COVID-19 that gave him the opportunity to rely on an Emergency to stay in power.

Only on Monday, he announced the reimposition of the movement control order (MCO), which is more than sufficient to deal with the surging COVID-19 infections.

Further, Perikatan’s failure to announce urgent financial measures to save Malaysia’s economy accompanying the declaration of the state of Emergency proves that Muhyiddin is not focused on saving jobs, businesses and the people’s livelihood.

The unemployment rate rose from 0.1 % to 4.8% in November last year as a result of the conditional and recovery MCO imposed then.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), trade unions and employer groups have warned of more business closures and workers’ retrenchments for the latest round of MCO and Emergency.

The tourism industry which lost RM 100 bil in revenue last year and is in need of urgent financial “life support”.

And yet not only is there no financial help forthcoming, but the promised automatic bank loan moratorium (except for the Top 20 group), Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution self-withdrawals and the increase in monthly welfare aid to RM1,000, including the unemployed for the period of the COVID-19 crisis, remains unfulfilled.

In the choice between lives and livelihood, the Government has also fallen very short in comprehensive implementation of 3Ts (testing, tracing and treatment) to save lives.

Even though the COVID-19 Fund was reduced from RM38 bil in 2020 to RM17 bil, RM 17 bil is still a useful sum to improve our health delivery.

Unfortunately, such funds appear not to be made readily to support our heroic frontliners whether in employing more healthcare workers or in purchasing vaccines.

At a time when Singapore has already taken delivery and begin mass vaccinations, our Ministers are only signing contracts to purchase these vaccines.

And this two-month delay in delivery of the vaccines means that more lives will be lost unnecessarily. – Jan 14, 2021

 

Lim Guan Eng is a former Finance Minister and the MP for Bagan

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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