Cabinet tomorrow should reconsider the summoning of a special Parliament to address the worsening Covid-19 pandemic as the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases could reach 200,000 – 250,000 cases by the time Parliament is re-opened on March 8

Yesterday Malaysia reported another 1,741 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 120,818 cases. The death toll from the pandemic has also crossed the 500 mark to 501.

The Heath Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the Health Ministry is mulling to allow Covid-19 patients who are asymptomatic to be quarantined at home as its bed capacity at government facilities is reaching the limit of 23,000.

Currently, there are 22,089 active Covid-19 cases, with the country witnessing a high number of cases daily.

If we go by the current rate of increase of new Covid-19 infections, we are likely to reach 200,000 – 250,000 cumulative total of Covid-19 cases in early March.

I therefore call on the Cabinet, which is meeting tomorrow for the first time in the new year, to reconsider the summoning of a special Parliament to address the worsening Covid-19 pandemic as we cannot wait until March 8 when Parliament is scheduled to be re-opened, as the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases could be in the 200,000 – 250,000 region by then.

Let us bear in mind that when Malaysia first imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18th March 2020, we had 728 Covid-19 cases and two deaths.

Now, we have a cumulative total of 120,818 cases and 501 deaths!

Why is Parliament not being summoned to address this worsening Covid-19 pandemic?

When the Dewan Rakyat adjourned on Dec. 17, there was a cumulative total of 89,132 Covid-19 cases and 432 fatalities. In these 17 days (Dec. 17 – Jan 3), there had been 31,686 new Covid-19 cases and 69 new fatalities.

It had taken ten months to reach 31,000 Covid-19 cases (as on 31.10.2020, the cumulative total was 31,548 cases), but this number was reached in the last 17 days!

Surely, this is added reason for the summoning of a Special Parliament in the next week or so, and not to wait for the re-opening of Parliament on March 8?

Malaysia does not have a hands-on Health Minister during the Covid-19 pandemic but are there no other Ministers who realise the need for an immediate special Parliament in view of the worsening situation of the Covid-19 pandemic?

I am not suggesting that we return to the blunt instrument of the MCO as we must not just save lives but also livelihoods.

It is most unfortunate that we have not implemented an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy against the coronavirus to strike a proper balance to save lives and livelihoods, without destroying hopes of a quick and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery for the country.

During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia in March and April, Malaysians and the world were completely unprepared, and 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.

A special Parliament in a week or so will not only address these problems and how to ensure a quick and sustainable post-pandemic economic recovery, but to deal with other challenges related to the pandemic, such as how to ensure the success of a Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

We must learn from the vaccine chaos in the United States, where less than three million Americans were vaccinated before the end of 2020 although the plan was to vaccinate 20 million Americans before the crystal-encrusted ball dropped in New York’s almost-deserted Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve to mark the end of a hellish year.

The Special Parliament should ensure that Malaysia can carry out a successful national vaccination programme, which is the concern of a group of 20 scientists, doctors and individuals who issued a joint statement entitled: “Covid-19 is Dangerous, Not Vaccines: Now more than ever, get vaccinated”.

The Special Parliament can endorse this joint statement which was issued because of the concern of the signatories of “increasing misinformation” on Covid-19 vaccines and the campaign of the anti-vaxxers.

The signatories argued that “it is far more harmful to one’s health to contract Covid-19 than to take an approved vaccine for the disease.”

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri