Lockdowns and trial-and-error measures have cost the nation dearly

The Mahiaddin Yasin-led government’s many missteps and ill-conceived actions explain why the people had to resort to flying white and black flags

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Deserted streets during coronavirus lockdown in 2020 - File photo: wjboyz/Flickr

Our nation’s lockdowns and movement restrictions continue.

But new Covid cases have soared from a few hundred cases per day to beyond 10,000.

There is more to the government’s efforts in battling the pandemic. Malaysia’s economic conditions are reportedly worse than the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

At least 120 hotels have been closed either permanently or temporarily.

The historical Cold Storage in Petaling Jaya has shut down. 

From his survey of Chinese press reports, investor-philanthropist Koon Yew Yin has reportedly listed down how the lockdowns have hurt businesses.

Some of the worrying numbers:

  • Tour agencies are temporarily or permanently closed, with 370,000 people believed to be out of work
  • All theatres are temporarily or permanently closed, putting 43,000 out of work
  • Some 70% of hair saloons have closed, affecting 100,000 people
  • Many colleges, training centres and professional schools have been suspended
  • Over 10,000 school buses are now idle
  • Casinos, entertainment, KTV, bars, spas, clubs and gyms have been temporarily or permanently closed
  • About a million people have had to suspend their businesses
  • The country’s chain milk tea shops also closed down one after another, with 25,000 employees laid off
  • Over 800,000 local graduates are affected, with hardly any job opportunities
  • About 80% of Malaysian law firms are affected

The nation’s productivity has slumped as millions have been told to work from home, week after week. Sizeable numbers have had to be quarantined.

The rise in inflation has added to the people’s burden. The varying lockdowns and movement restrictions have affected millions of self-employed people, including migrant workers.

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Now the question is, are we winning the war against Covid-19 or have we lost it?

Trial-and-error government must surrender

For the past 15 months, the people have been struggling with little hope under a band of politicians who ousted a legitimate, democratically elected government in February 2020. 

A quick run-down of the Mahiaddin Yasin-led government’s many missteps, ill-conceived actions and failures to act explain why the people had to resort to flying white and black flags. It is a blessing that Malaysians are peace-loving people, who at worst will only stage peaceful public protests and not follow the bloody path we see in some other countries.  

Some of these missteps:

Overstretching the country’s comparatively reliable public healthcare system. Now we see mounting public complaints and burned-out frontline health workers, with civil society groups having to step in with rescue efforts. Some resorted to wearing black as part of the “Code Black” protest against the treatment of healthcare contract workers, who face job insecurity.

The economy has slumped owning to poor management of various economic drivers from petty traders to multinational industries. Instead of consistent supportive measures, we saw stop-gap, knee-jerk measures. The statements from several trade bodies and chambers of commerce suggest we had an administration indulging in trial and error.  

The heightened political survival war games within this backdoor government are no secret. We have witnessed many manoeuvres that have kept our system of parliament democracy out in the cold. 

We also witnessed trial-and-error implementation of lockdowns and movement restrictions that relied on questionable data management. 

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We have seen a lack of empathy and priority for the mental, emotional and social wellbeing of the people, many of whom have been struggling under the endless trial-and-error leadership by the government and its appointees. 

The inability to provide consistent and sustainable strategies in education was also glaring.

These are only some of the many apparent missteps. Readers can easily add to this list of misdeeds and even stupidities that have eroded the livelihoods of millions of people, including migrants.

It is time to go, Mahiaddin and team. Malaysians, for their part, will never abandon their duty to protect the nation.

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Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
21 Jul 2021 8.37am

We should push for UBI (Universal Basic Income), or at the very least, “conditional cash transfers” in Malaysia. Worth looking at the Brazilian experience with its Bolsa Familia programme, during the Presidency of Lula da Silva.

Hakimi Abdul Jabar
20 Jul 2021 11.50am

Having seen with my own eyes, the squalid living conditions of the Rakyat – Downtrodden Citizens of Malaysia – the great income disparities, how the powerful & wealthy plunder the nation’s riches & resources – rich parliamentarians being elected administrators getting more than hundreds of millions in US$ worth deposited into their personal bank accounts, it is time the Rakyat participated in the 4Ps & UNSDG directly towards Inclusive Capitalism.