Media Statement by Member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri, Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on October 30 2020:
Can the Perikatan Nasional parties rise above narrow politics of race and religion to have a larger Malaysian vision to be able to respond to the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s call and forge an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach and mindset to inspire national unity and single-mindedness in the war against Covid-19 epidemic?
We are in unprecedented times.
Five days have been wasted since the Yang di Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and the Malay Rulers rejected the advice of the Muhyiddin Cabinet to proclaim a state of emergency nine months after the Covid-19 epidemic and the Perikatan Nasional parties in government have yet to prove that they can rise above narrow politics of race and religion to have a larger Malaysian vision to be able to respond to the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s call and forge an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach and mindset to inspire national unity and single-mindedness in the war against Covid-19 epidemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has registered 30,090 infections and killed 246 people in Malaysia, placing the country in the 87th position for nations with the most Covid-19 cases and 103rd ranking among countries in terms Covid-19 fatalities.
A state of emergency is not the answer to the Covid-19 epidemic. The answer is to have a larger Malaysian vision to inspire single-minded national unity and solidarity regardless of race, religion, region, class or politics to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and not to plant greater national divisiveness and polarisation in the country.
This is time to put nation above party and even self and not to jockey for political positions and benefit.
We are not in the league of nations like the eight countries with a million Covid-19 infections, especially the first three top countries like United States, which has more than 9.2 million Covid-19 infections, India which has passed the 8-million mark of Covid-19 cases or Brazil which has registered near 5.5 million Covid-19 cases.
We are also not among the league of nations with the most Covid-19 fatalities, led by the United States with more than 232,000 deaths, Brazil with nearly 160,000 deaths, India with more than 120,000 deaths, Mexico with more than 89,000 deaths and the United Kingdom with more than 45,000 deaths.
But the public and economic situation in Malaysia are dire and we must mobilise national unity and solidarity among all races, religions and cultures to bring the Covid-19 epidemic in Malaysia under control.
Malaysia is in uncharted territory for we do not have a leader who commands the majority support of the Members of Parliament while facing a deadly Covid-19 epidemic, which some experts say may last till 2022.
What do we do under these circumstances?
Those who advocate a state of emergency argue that although there are enough laws, whether to impose strict lockdowns or act against Covid-19-infected undocumented migrants attempting to sneak into the country, this is the only way to stop more Covid-19 spikes caused by the holding of elections after the recent Sabah state general election had become a Covid-19 super-spreader event.
This is a poor argument.
There is a Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election slated for December 5, 2020.
I have suggested that as a first step to an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” war against the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to save lives and livelihoods in Malaysia, all Malaysians and political parties should reach a national consensus that a Warisan candidate would take uncontested the parliamentary seat of Batu Sapi, vacated by the death of former Minister Liew Vui Keong.
There is the Sarawak and the 15th national general elections. This could be resolved by a parliamentary agreement by all political parties that there should be no general election, whether at the national or state level, until the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control.
This could be done by the necessary amendments of the relevant laws requiring the holding of national or state general election, including a Constitutional amendment which requires the support of two-thirds majority of Members of Parliament.
The only question is whether the political parties forming the national or state governments can rise above narrow politics of race and religion to have a larger Malaysian vision to be able to respond to the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s call and forge an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach and mindset to inspire national unity and single-mindedness in the war against Covid-19 epidemic.
The Opposition parties are ready to respond positively if the political parties in government are capable of responding with a vision of unity and solidarity, rising above race, religion, region, class or politics, in the war against the Covid-19 epidemic.
Yesterday, the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council agreed in principle to support the proposal of a “Confidence and Suppy Agreement” to enable the 2021 Budget to be passed and we are awaiting specific government proposals.
However, the Government should not expect a blank cheque to disregard the legitimate views and needs of the people but must enter into positive and constructive discussion with Pakatan Harapan leaders to reach a Confidence and Supply Agreement for the 2021 Budget to be passed by Parliament.
Lim Kit Siang,
Member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri.