The days of lockdowns, confusing SOP flip-flops and policy ’U-turns’ under this #KerajaanGagal must come to an end!
Malaysia has been ’featured’ in international news for all the wrong reasons lately. The most shocking of which was the scathing commentary regarding our country’s downward spiral into a failed state published by Bloomberg. Titled ‘Malaysia is staggering down the road to failed statehood’, the piece documented the failures of the PN government and its adverse effect on the welfare of the rakyat.
Concurrently, The Economist has also recently featured Malaysia, this time placing Malaysia last out of 50 countries in its normalcy index for countries recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there as the negative outlook on Malaysia is also rampant within the global business community as well. In fact, many international business entities that have investments in our country have openly criticised PN’s failure to manage the pandemic. These include:
- The European Union-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham)
- Malaysia-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC)
- Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia (JACTIM)
- Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro)
- American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham)
- Malaysian Dutch Business Council (MDBC)
Given the grave impact these open criticisms have had towards Malaysia’s reputation as a reliable foreign direct investment (FDI) destination, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Economic Committee has expressed deep concerns regarding PN’s lack of economic leadership.
On 22 June 2021, the committee warned PN that the prolonged climate of confusion is deteriorating international business community’s confidence in Malaysia as a viable investment destination. Unfortunately, the warning have fallen to deaf ears.
Furthermore on 13 July 2021, the PH economic committee again reiterated the urgent need for the Federal Government to address economic uncertainties in order to secure employment opportunities as well as foreign investments. The committee also urged for PN to move away from being too reliant on general movement restrictions to a more targeted approach centred around systematic identification and containment.
The committee stressed,
“This shift in strategy would inject a degree of certainty and pave the way for gradual reopening of economic activities, thus, safeguarding jobs as well as allaying concerns by the investor community.”
Kenyataan Media Jawatankuasa Ekonomi Pakatan Harapan PN PERLU MEREDAKAN KETIDAKTENTUAN EKONOMI UNTUK MENJAMIN PELUANG…Posted by Pakatan Harapan on Monday, 12 July 2021
The committee further stressed the importance of managing workplace transmissions as it is an important precursor to reopening Malaysia’s economy across all sectors responsibly. Without resolving domestic fundamental issues, the international trade visits by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali are utterly pointless.
The statement iterated,
”It is pointless for the International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali to embark on trade visits overseas if he and the entire PN administration do not immediately address these fundamental issues which could potentially drive away existing investors.”
The PH economic committee thus urges for PN to move past the arbitrary distinction between ‘essential’ and ‘nonessential’ sector types as even essential services can be hotbed of Covid-19 infections. Furthermore, sectors with low transmission incidences should also be allowed to gradually open in order to distribute resources to assist other businesses mitigate transmission at their premises. Through this measure, these businesses can ensure they can resume operations in a ‘new-normal’.
3 measures to ensure the continuity and certainty of economic activities in Malaysia
Beyond just vaccination drive, PN must invest in these measures in order to save Malaysian economy from further collapse:
1. Strengthening Malaysia’s healthcare capacity
The Federal Government must invest more to strengthen the capacity of our healthcare system specifically to deal with the Covid-19 virus and its variants. This will include the co-opt of the private healthcare sector as part of the national ‘whole of society’ strategy against the disease.
The national healthcare infrastructure needs to be able to handle more positive patients, especially in terms of ICU facilities and availability. To reduce the burden on existing hospitals, considerations should also be made for purpose-built Covid-19 treatment centres. The same approach has been taken before with the establishment of purpose-built leprosy and tuberculosis centres.
2. ‘Pandemic-proofing’ work spaces to ensure continuity of economic activities
Given that workspace, especially in the manufacturing sector are the largest source of Covid-19 clusters, the government must invest in ‘pandemic-proofing’ factories and workers’ quarters.
Moreover, it is not enough for the government to implement new laws and regulations to control the work and hostel environments. Factories, especially small-medium industries are already suffering from severely depleted cash flows and have no financial ability to invest to meet the new require stringent standards. The current financial assistance and targeted moratorium (if qualified), only focus on keeping businesses alive and workers employed.
The PH economic committee thus calls for PN to implement the following:
- Immediately invest at least RM15 billion in sector-wide pandemic-proofing economic grants and soft loans.
- Follow the example set by the Selangor PH State Government through its Prevention of Outbreak at Ignition Sites programme which allocated RM500,000 towards ensuring industrial health compliance and controls.
- Introduce incentives such as associated tax deductions or subsidies to install appropriate sensors and ventilation systems.
- Introduce pre-emptive risk assessment means SOPs that focus on improving air quality and ventilation in indoor spaces as well as treating outdoor spaces as low risk with adequate social distancing and crowd control measure.
3. Mandatory subsidised Covid-19 testing at workplaces
The PN government should also introduce a mandatory periodic subsidised testing regime at workplaces to ensure early containment of any potential outbreaks. This is inline with the Find, Test and Trace, Isolate, Support and Vaccinate (FTTIS+V) framework as recommended by public health experts and policymakers.
Kenyataan media Jawatankuasa Ekonomi Pakatan Harapan pada 22 Jun 2021: “Strategi dan Bantuan kepada Industri untuk…Posted by Pakatan Harapan on Tuesday, 22 June 2021
All the measures above are imperative in order to revitalise the Malaysian economy and save businesses from shutting down. These measures would also drastically improve our nation’s reputation as a reliable FDI destination.
PN should have learnt the lessons from all the prior ‘lockdowns’ that the fight against Covid-19 will never be resolved with simplistic lockdowns. That is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
Instead, we must do everything we can to enable Malaysia to live alongside the pandemic and survive in the long run. – The Rocket.