Government should explore the possibility of holding an emergency “virtual” Parliament as it is imperative that Malaysia adopts a “whatever it takes” strategy not only to win the Covid 19 war but to survive the post-coronavirus pandemic economics

The Malaysian Parliament should explore the possibility of holding an emergency “virtual” Parliament as it is imperative that Malaysia adopts a “whatever it takes” strategy not only to win the Covid-19 war but to survive the post-coronavirus pandemic economics.

In the past 24 hours, at least nine new grim milestones in the invisible global war against the Covid-19 pandemic had been reached which highlight that the world has still a long way to go if we are to survive the pandemic. These nine grim milestones are;

  1. The world has surpassed the million mark in the global total of confirmed cases of Covid-19. It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, four days for the third 100,000 cases, three days for the fourth 100,000 cases, two days for the fifth 100,000 cases, one day for the sixth 100,000, two days for the seventh 100,000, a day each for the eighth and ninth 100,000 cases. Now the global total of confirmed cases stand at 1,007,625.
  2. The global death toll has raced past the 50,000-mark to reach 52,607.
  3. In ten days of double-digit exponential increase of Covid-19 cases, from a daily increase of 10,831 on March 25 to 26,582 cases to total 175,434 cases, the United States has reached a total of 240,344 cases, more than three times China’s total Covid-19 cases which now stand at 81,589 cases.
  4. The grand total of Covid-19 deaths in the three top countries of Italy, Spain and United States is close to 30,000 or nine times the total death toll in China of 3,318.
  5. New York in United States alone has more Covid-19 cases than China’s total of 81,589 cases - with 92,381 confirmed cases in New York state.
  6. France registered the highest daily death increase of 1,355 deaths yesterday.
  7. Italy recorded the highest percentage of death toll of confirmed Covid-19 cases – 12% as a result of 13,915 deaths out of a total of 115,242 confirmed cases. For the last one week, one Italian died of Covid-19 every two-and-half minutes. Italy is followed by Spain, which has a death toll of 9.15% and France with 9.11%. In Spain, an ice rink in a Madrid shopping mall, the Ice Palace which has a capacity for 1,800 skaters, has been turned into a temporary morgue, while in France, a hall at the world’s largest wholesale food market near Paris has being converted into a temporary mortuary.
  8. Death rate of 9.49% in Indonesia with 170 deaths and 4.1% in the Philippines with 107 deaths.
  9. Germany joining United States, Italy and Spain to surpass China with 84,688 cases as the world’s top four countries with the most Covid-19 cases as compared to China’s total of 81,589 cases.

These grim milestones are also grim reminders of the urgent need for the Malaysian government to adopt a “whatever it takes” strategy not only to win the Covid-19 war but to survive the post-coronavirus pandemic economics.

The delay in announcing an economic rescue package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is an example that the Malaysian government has still to adopt a “whatever it takes” strategy to face the unprecedented crisis confronting the country to both save lives and livelihoods.

An American economics writer, Derek Thompson has written about the “four rules of pandemic economics”, namely: -

  1. “Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
  2. Pay people a living wage to stop working.
  3. Build companies a time machine.
  4. The business of America is now science.

The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has called on the world “to prepare for the worst and do everything to avoid it”.

He issued a three-point call to action, based on science, solidarity and smart policies:

First, suppress transmission of Covid-19.

Second, tackle the devastating social and economic dimensions of the crisis; and

Third, recover better.

We are in an extraordinarily crisis which calls for extraordinary solutions. In the war against Covid 19, governments have to put the economy into an artificial coma but must keep the patient alive.

In a normal recession, the answer is to boost demand. But in pandemic economics, at least in the short-run, the objective is not to boost demand but to freeze the economy and for the people “stay in and hold on”.

The challenge is how nations can survive the pandemic economics with the possibility of a resurgence of Covid-19, until a vaccine is invented in 12 – 18 months’ time.

As Derek Thompson concluded his article:

“We need to get people money, or they will die. We need to get companies cash, or they will die. But if we don’t clear the way for health-care workers to treat the sick, or for scientists to treat the disease, people and companies are going to die, anyway. There is no such thing as a normal economy until we contain the virus. But if we can’t contain the virus quickly, we might not have anything normal to return to.”

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri