Johor MB commended for asking that CMCO should be imposed in red zones only

I commend the Johor Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad for proposing that the conditional movement control order (MCO) be enforced only in red zone areas or districts with a high number of Covid-19 cases and not the entire state.

He said the recommendation, for the consideration of the federal government, was made through the State Security Special Committee (JKKN) meeting.

I fully agree with Hasni that this is very important, so that the implementation of the CMCO does not affect the economic sector and daily life in areas with a low number of cases.

In fact, one thought that kept recurring to me in the four-hour road journey from Gelang Patah to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday was why the government was 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.

It is important that the government strike a proper balance to save lives and livelihoods as well.

Last Sunday in Johore, there was one district in red zone or more than 40 cases (Johor Bahru), six district in yellow zone or with between 1 to 20 cases (Kluang, Kulai, Tangkok, Kota Tinggi, Pontian and Muar) and three districts in green zone or not a single case (Batu Pahat, Mersing and Segamat).

By today, there is not a single district in Johore which is in red zone, as Johor Bahru has become an orange zone – i.e. 21-40 cases, six districts in yellow zone and three districts in green zone.

During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia in March and April, it was an unprecedented epidemic when the deadly virus hit Malaysians and the world for the first time, and the people were prepared to accept drastic measures like national or state lockdowns and movement control measures but 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.

I had asked whether the National Security Council (NSC) had considered district-level lockdowns, which will reduce the grave damage to the people’s livelihoods and the Malaysian economy.

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.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri