Malaysia must go on a war footing in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic – not against any Malaysian or group but against the coronavirus as the country is heading towards a Covid catastrophe

Malaysia must go on a war footing in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic, not against any Malaysian or group but against the coronavirus as the country is heading towards a Covid catastrophe for three reasons:

Firstly, the surge of coronavirus cases is not being controlled, as the increase of 3,631 new cases yesterday was the ninth day the daily increase of Covid-19 cases exceeded the 3,000-mark (crossing the 4,000-mark for two days in Jan 16 and 20).

If we maintain the average daily increase of the past week, we would cross the 200,000 mark by the end of January and well on the way to be the top 30-40 nations in the world in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

Secondly, the record-high daily Covid-19 fatalities of 18, bringing the cumulative fatalities to 660 lives – nearly five times the combined Covid-19 fatalities of five ASEAN nations combined, viz Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Singapore!

Thirdly, we are the second worst performer in the world on the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two months as we were No. 85 among countries in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, having 49,700 Covid-19 cases, but yesterday, we have jumped 27 places to be ranked No 58 with 176,180 Covid-19 cases.

During this period, Malaysia’s cumulative total of Covid-10 cases increased by 3.55 times as compared to Turkey’s increase by 5.74 times, followed by Germany (2.55 times), United Kingdom (2.54 times) and the United States (2.17 times).

This is the urgency why the Yang di Pertuan Agong should convene a Special Parliament, which should become a War Parliament for the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The War Parliament against the Covid-19 pandemic should the centrepiece and platform of the “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

It should instil in every Malaysian a “war mentality” in the Covid-19 pandemic and not to regard, like the Kedah Mentri Besar, that Malaysians are all having a “MCO holiday”.

There are even PAS leaders who think that during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important to have an anti-LGBT taskforce than an anti-Covid-19 task force.

Early this month, the Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah spoke about targeted lockdowns in parts of the country to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, what we see in the re-imposition of the movement control order, which has been extended country-wide to Feb. 4, is the use of the blunt instrument of a national lockdown instead of targeted lockdowns.

The war strategists in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic should review every strategy used so far and consider whether there are better ways to contain the spread of an infectious disease nationwide but which is more favourable to livelihoods and the Malaysian economy without sacrificing lives and still prevent future clusters from emerging.

Malaysia must ensure that we have an effective and efficient “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach in the war against the Covidd-19 epidemic.

If we are to conduct an effective and efficient war against the Covid-19 pandemic, the unity of Malaysians and public trust and confidence are very important.

There must be no room for abuse of power, fraud, corruption or any discriminatory action against any race, religion or section of Malaysia’s diverse population, as happened in Kedah over the Kedah State Government’s decision to cancel Thaipusam as a holiday this year.

Mechanisms must be in place to ensure that there will be no abuse or misuse of power, fraud, corruption or discriminatory actions.

Recently, the chief commissioner of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Azam Baki, made a pathetic statement that civil servants should come forward and report corrupt practices in their respective departments or agencies to the MACC.

Is this all that the MACC could do at a time when hundreds of billions of ringgit of economic stimulus packages are being expended in the war against Covid-19 pandemic?

What is the MACC doing to ensure that hundred of billions of ringgit of economic stimulus benefit the ordinary rakyat and do not end up as “economic stimulus” for the cronies of those in power?

Has the MACC set up a special task force to deal with corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020 is expected to be released next Thursday.

I asked a Malaysian who had been intimately involved with past TI CPIs as to what he expected of TI CPI 2020, and this was his reply:

“Drop. Not more than 3 points in score. It takes time to drop significantly since some of the data (surveys) used were 2018/2019. Next year we can big changes.”

Malaysia overtook China in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases on December 16, 2020, a feat that was supposed to be impossible considering that China has a population which is 40 times larger than Malaysia!

Will Malaysia overtake China in the TI CPI and perceived internationally as a more corrupt nation?

Malaysia’s TI CPI ranking fell to the lowest level of No. 62 out of 180 countries in 2017 while the TI CPI score fell to the lowest level 4.3 out of 10 in 2011.

The country was promised that under the UMNO-BN regime in the last decade Malaysia will achieve the target to be in the top 30 countries in the TI CPI 2020.

Studying the TI CPI ranking and score for the 24-year series of TI CPI from 1995-2018, there is no ground for anyone to believe that the target of Malaysia being ranked in the top 30 countries of TI CPI 2020 could be achieved.

From the TI CPI record from 2010-2018, it is likely that China would have overtaken Malaysia in the TI CPI series before 2030.

Countries which had been down on the list of the TI CPI ranking in the first series in 1995, like China, Thailand, India and Indonesia, were fast catching up to Malaysia’s level, which had regressed since 1995.

China was ranked No. 40 out of 41 countries with a CPI score of 2.16 out of 10 in 1995. In 2018, China was ranked No. 87 out of 180 countries with a CPI score of 39 out of 100.

At the annual average rate of China’s improvement and Malaysia’s regression of their CPI score in the last 24 years, China would have overtaken Malaysia, both in ranking and in score well before 2030

Fortunately, this trajectory was stopped when the Pakatan Harapan government took over, and in the TI CPI 2019, although China improved both its TI CPI rank and score to No. 80 and 41 points out of 100, Malaysia achieved the best TI CPI performance in 25 years with a single-year improvement of six points for TI CPI score and 10 placings for TI CPI ranking – a ranking of No. 51 and score of 53 out of the 100.

Malaysia was poised for a new era of anti-corruption in Malaysia by achieving better TI CPI score and ranking every year from TI CPI 2019, and embark Malaysia on the road to become one of the world’s top 30 countries in public integrity before 2030.

But the Pakatan Harapan government was short-lived, as it was toppled by the Sheraton Move conspiracy which brought in the backdoor and illegitimate Perikatan Nasional Government.

What is in store for Malaysia in the TI CPI 2020 next Thursday?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri