28 June 2021 was a day of infamy for Malaysia when our COVID-19 death toll crossed the 5,000 mark. By 29 June, there had been an additional 107 deaths bringing the grim tally to 5,108.
Never in the history of Malaysia have so many died from a single cause in so short a time.
Looking at the cold statistics can make us forget that the 5,108 dead are human beings, who loved and were loved by family members and friends. Countless families have been ruthlessly torn apart. We will never know how many who registered but died whilst waiting for vaccines or could have been saved if the vaccines were ordered earlier by a lackadaisical government.
The PN government has refused to admit their failure to make any provision in the 2021 Budget passed last year to procure vaccines, but waited until April 2021 by appropriating Emergency powers to tap into RM 5 billion from the National Trust Fund Act, without the approval of Parliament.
Clearly PN acted too slow and too late. Coupled with the abysmal mismanagement of the COVID-19 that caused the latest record number of cases and deaths. Despite 4 weeks of total lockdown since 1 June 2021, the situation has not improved but has deteriorated alarmingly.
Looking at the number of cases alone is misleading. More important is the positivity rate, where infections are based on the number of tests done. On 1 June there were 100,885 tests producing 7,105 positive cases yielding a positivity rate of 7.04%, far above World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 5%.
On 28 June there were 61,025 tests producing 5,218 positive cases yielding a positivity rate of 8.55%. On 29 June there were 68,052 tests producing 6,437 positive cases yielding a positivity rate of 9.46%. This positivity rate of 9.46% is alarming and the highest this year despite the 4 weeks of total lockdown. The situation has just simply gotten worse.
Malaysia ranked worse than India, Indonesia Vietnam and Thailand.
No wonder civil society and organisations such as Malaysian Employers Federation and Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) openly said that the total lockdown Movement Control Order(MCO) has failed.
The causes of failure are crystal clear. The PN government’s policy flip-flops and COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) U-turns, as well as double-standards in enforcement between VIPs and the rakyat, have not helped. Neither has the failure of the Prime Minister and Ministers, such as Mohamed Azmin Ali, Annuar Musa, Zuraida Kamaruddin and the infamous Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali as well as countless Deputy Ministers, in complying with their own MCO restrictions.
And yet there is Azmin Ali’s nefarious Slim by-election campaign speech on 23 August 2020, stating that fortunately PN was in power because more Malaysians would have died from COVID-19 if PH was still the government.
Azmin obviously lied. On 23 August 2020, the cumulative death toll was 125 with 9,267 cases. As of 29 June 2021, the death toll has risen to 5,108 with a cumulative 745,703 cases. Since 23 August 2020, 4,983 more Malaysians have died from the PN government’s incompetent and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, there is no apology nor remorse from Azmin for making such baseless and tasteless remarks.
Will I Be Next…
An elderly couple who died together at their home or parents leaving their young children orphans are heart breaking. Serial MCOs appear impotent to battle COVID-19 until we wonder whether we will be next.
“Under MCO 1.0, I have no knowledge of any friends infected with COVID-19, under MCO 2.0 I have friends with COVID-19, under total lockdown MCO 3.0 I have friends who tragically died from COVID-19. Should there be another MCO 4.0, I may be next…”
Loss Of Lives And Livelihood Irreplaceable.
The lives lost to COVID-19 does not reveal the true extent of the cost of loss of livelihood. The loss of livelihood has also led to gruesome loss of lives for some. When the MCO 1.0 and 2.0 was imposed last year, the police revealed that nationally there were 631 suicide cases in 2020 as compared to 609 in 2019, resulting from the loss of livelihood and family problems. For the first 3 months of 2021, there were 336 suicide cases, more than half of what was reported throughout 2020.
In Penang there were 53 deaths by suicide during the first 5 months of 2021, nearly equal to the 58 deaths by suicide for the whole of 2020.
We are united in grief at the calamitous loss of lives and livelihood. The country deserves better. Since the whole-of-government effort to battle COVID-19 has failed, it is up to us citizens to undertake a whole-of-society effort together with the King and State Rulers to do the right thing to win against COVID-19. This would be the best tribute to remember the 5,108 deaths and many others from COVID-19 related causes.
As St Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Lim Guan Eng