Weekly Highlights

After a year of worsening Covid-19 pandemic, a false sense of priority seems to pervade the top echelon of the Muhyiddin government.

It is shocking that after a year of worsening Covid-19 pandemic, the re-imposition of movement control order and the declaration of an emergency, a false sense of priority  seems to pervade the top echelon of the Muhyiddin government.

Otherwise, why the visit of the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to Indonesia where one of the results was to “step up talks to work out the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the implementation of the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) scheme between the two countries”, as announced by Muhyiddin  after he met Indonesian President  Jojo Widodo at Istana Merdeka, Jakarta last Friday?

The top priority for Malaysia and Indonesia at present should be  to bring the Covid-19 pandemic in their respective countries under control, as Indonesia is at present ranked No. 19 among countries  in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases and one of 21 countries which had over a million cases –  1,147,010 Covid-19 cases and 31,392 fatalities with a daily increase of 12,150 new Covid-19 infections yesterday while Malaysia is struggling to bring the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic under control after four-and-a-half months.

Indonesia reached the record-high  daily increase of 14,518 new Covid-19 infections only  on January 30 and had  maintained a five-digit daily increase since then, culminating in 12,156 new cases yesterday.

It is difficult to fathom  what was  Muhyiddin thinking when he made the  call for a
“step-up” of talks to work out a RGL arrangement with Indonesia, when it is would be more realistic to talk about plans for  RGL arrangement with other ASEAN nations which have brought the Covid-19 pandemic under control, such as Singapore (ranked No. 94, total of 59,675 cases which  increased by 26 new infections yesterday), Thailand (ranked No. 115, total of 23,314 cases which  increased by 490 new infections yesterday), Vietnam (ranked No. 172, total of 1,981 cases which increased by five  new infections yesterday), Cambodia (ranked No. 192, total of 472 cases which increased by two cases yesterday),  Brunei (ranked No. 198, total of 181 cases which had no case of increase yesterday) or Laos (ranked 207, total of 45 cases with no increase yesterday).

But to now, the independent Covid-19  special committee which would advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong on the emergency and which was announced by  the Prime Minister on January 12 had not yet been formed although Pakatan Harapan had responded positively to the proposal by naming the nominees to the committee.

This almost  four-week delay in setting up the special committee to advise the Yang di Pertuan  on Covid-19 and the emergency should engage the priority attention of the Prime Minister instead of a step-up of the preparations for a RGL between Malaysia and Indonesia, when this would in turn depend on the ability of both countries to bring the Covid-19 pandemic in their respective countries under control.

What is clear is that there is a need for a complete overhaul of the strategy in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is better to be late than never in launching an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic or Malaysia will not be struggling over the question raised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) that the Health Ministry should revert to its earlier policy of testing all  close contacts instead of presently testing only  symptomatic close contacts.

 Lim Kit Siang

MP for Iskandar Puteri

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