Why is the government not learning from the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 10 months, not only in Malaysia but in the world, to implement a flexible “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” war against the coronavirus to strike a proper balance to save lives and livelihoods as well
One thought that kept recurring to me in the four-hour road journey from Gelang Patah to Kuala Lumpur today for the Parliament meeting tomorrow is: Why is the government not learning from the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 10 months, not only in Malaysia but in the world, to implement a flexible “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy against the coronavirus to strike a proper balance to save lives and livelihoods as well.
I had suggested in Gelang Patah early this morning that the government should reconsider its decision to impose the conditional movement control order (CMCO) on Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Putrajaya, Perak, Kedah and Terengganu from tomolrrow by taking into account the lessons in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and to have greater flexibility to allow Malaysians to live with the coronavirus without destroying livelihoods and hopes of a national economic recovery.
In my road journey from Gelang Patah to Kuala Lumpur, I passed Kulai district, which had five Covid-19 active cases in the past 14 days, Kluang which had six active cases, Batu Pahat which had no case, Muar with two active cases and Tangkak with four active cases -but all these five districts of Kulai, Kluang, Batu Pahat, Muar and Tangkak will have a CMCO imposed tomorrow although there is only one district – Johor Bahru – which is in the red zone for active cases in the past 14 days.
During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia in March and April, when the deadly virus hit for the first time and Malaysians and the world were completely unprepared, the people were ready to accept drastic measures like national lockdowns and movement control measures which proved very costly in social and economic terms.
But in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia, the people are now more familiar with the various consequences of the strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic, and Malaysians are entitled to ask why the government is not implementing a more flexible “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach in the long-term war against the epidemic to strike a proper balance to save both lives and livelihoods - with government leaders setting the proper example without any double standards.
Instead of national lockdowns or sate lockdowns, have the National Security Council (NSC) consider district-level lockdowns, which will reduce the grave damage to the people’s livelihoods and the Malaysian economy?
Has the NSC for instance considered the possibility of imposing the CMCO in Johor Bahru but not in the rest of Johore state, as Johor Bahru is the only district in Johore which is in the red zone, while six other districts are in yellow zone and three districts in green zone, i.e.without a single case.
If this flexible approach is adopted, not only in Johor, but throughout Malaysia, with CMCO imposed on district-based instead of state-based criteria, we will have a more flexible strategy against Covid-19 epidemic to strike a better balance to save lives and livelihoods, in a situation where we have to learn to live with the coronavirus as all signs point to a long battle against the Covid-19 epidemic which could run into 2022.