Special Parliament on the Covid-19 pandemic to work out a strategy for Malaysia to get out of the slippery slope to a failed state in a post-Covid world

In his live New Year message, the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin listed five priorities for the year 2021 in an integrated national recovery strategy post Covid-19.

The Fourth Priority is to “Uphold the country’s sovereignty and strengthen Malaysia’s position on the world stage”.

If we are serious about this priority, then Parliament must be convened in a Special Session on the Covid-19 pandemic to work out a strategy to get Malaysia out of the slippery slope to a failed state in a post-Covid world.

Even before the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and its early states, Malaysia had already fallen into the slippery slope towards a failed state;

In the past fifty years, we have lost out in economic prowess to Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the nineties, Malaysia nearly became an economic “tiger”. Nobody is now asking whether Malaysia will finally become a economic “tiger”, as that question is increasingly reserved for Vietnam as to whether it could be next Asian “tiger”.

An article asking this question last month said Vietnam, “home to a low-cost manufacturing base, well-educated workforce and solid infrastructure, has increasingly been displacing China in global supply chains over the last decade”.

It said that its credentials to be the next Asian tiger economy has been burnished with its “world-beating management of Covid-19”.

Despite key vulnerabilities, including a long and heavily trafficked land border with China, the country has, to date, recorded just 1,551 verified infections and 35 deaths – regarded as “a tipping point” both for Vietnamese corporates and the Vietnamese economy as a whole.

In contrast, Malaysia’s war against the Covid-19 pandemic is not going well at all.

Vietnam, with the world’s 15th largest population, with 1,551 Covid-19 cases and 35 fatalities is ranked No. 145 in the world among countries with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

Malaysia, which is 45th in the world in population, has jumped another rank to be positioned No. 57 in the world among nations with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, and we should be ranked No. 56 today if we continue to record over 3,000 cases of daily increase.

My forecast on Sunday that if the trajectory of daily increases continues, Malaysia will break the 200,000-mark by the end of January 2021 and we will likely be ranked among the top 50 countries in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases appears likely to proved right, although we are likely to be among the top 50 countries much earlier.

Malaysia’s outranking of Ireland to be ranked No. 57 is significant, as it was only mid-December that Ireland underwent the worst period of the pandemic when Covid-19 cases ripped across the country, gaining a speed unimagined in the worst-case scenarios and forming an almost vertical line that rushed up, up and up to give Ireland the world’s highest rate of Covid-19 infection.

On Dec. 24, Ireland recorded a daily increase of 918 cases but it multiplied 32 times and reached a daily increase of 8,277 cases on January 8. Ireland went into a national lockdown and its daily increase had been reduced to 928 cases yesterday.

If Ireland can achieve a turnaround of the Covid-19 rampage within a month, why is Malaysia unable to achieve a turnaround in the four months of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic since Sept. 20?

At present, Malaysia is the 25th country with the highest daily increase of Covid-19 infections.

Although we are not in the league of the worst nations in the Covid-19 pandemic, where the daily increase in Covid-19 cases in the United States is 145,834 cases down from its peak of 308,035 cases on January 8; 63,626 cases of daily increase in Brazil down from its peak of 87,134 cases on January 7; or 12,569 cases of daily increase in India down from the peak of 97,859 cases on Sept.16, the current surge of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia are critical and must be brought under control.

Farther afield and in the longer time-span, we must consider what is in store for Malaysia in the post-Covid international arena.

Malaysians must pay special attention to a recent Euler Hermes report titled “The world is moving East, fast”, which argued that the Covid-19 crisis could accelerate the shifting global balance towards Asia.

It referred to the challenge to navigate this gradually shifting balance in the global economy, and more specifically, the US-China rivalry.

What should struck Malaysian leaders is the diminishing role of the Malaysian economy in the post-Covid international scheme things, which is not in keeping with Muhyiddin’s fourth priority to “strengthen Malaysia’s position on the world stage”.

This is another reason for the Yang di Pertuan Agong to convene the Special Parliament on the Covid-19 pandemic.,

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri