Curbing the coronavirus: Are movement control orders effective?

Deserted streets during coronavirus lockdown - Photograph: wjboyz/Flickr

Seek the assistance of other nations that are ahead of the curve in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, WH Cheng writes.


Until today, the conditional movement control order is still being enforced in some parts of our nation, apart from the enhanced movement control order, which is also being enforced in critical parts of the nation.

And until recently, the defence minister has been making public statements almost daily on the total number of people who were caught flouting the conditional movement control orders nationwide.

The health director general too is making his daily announcements on the number of new cases, deaths and patients cured, coupled with more advice on how to prevent and deal with this issue nationwide.

And yet the number of new cases keeps increasing everyday like nobody’s business.

This makes some question the effectiveness of the conditional and enhanced movement control orders which are enforced in some places to this day.

The major problem here lies with the adherence to the standard operating procedures.

To the defence minister, a simple question: when one of your cabinet colleagues, the minister of plantations and commodities, flouted the quarantine rules and standard procedures in public, all ways and means were found to ensure that the Pas leader was immune from any sort of action. And it was done effeciently – some blaming of others for not issuing this or that to him, some process that was not carried out, this and that, and many more lame excuses.

You, as the defence minister, were also accused of lately flouting the standard procedures when you attended a session with your party members and supporters in an unannounced location. The pictures went viral over social media – though you denied it and blamed the angle the photos were taken.

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You urged tougher action against the general public who flouted the procedures by ensuring heavy fines and longer jail terms for these people, the ordinary folk out there.

But then many of your colleagues with the status of ministers, deputy ministers, party leaders and other VIPs flouted the standard operating procedures openly, as if there were two sets of rules applied for the VIPs and the ordinary people. In Malay, it is called dua darjat – just in case the words are new to you all.

These VIPs seem inmmune to the sort of action which has been taken against ordinary people flouting the standard operating procedures.

And now, you can now see more and more people flouting these procedures. Many are fed up because VIPs and ordinary people appear to have two different sets of rules, with many even doubtful if the increases in these cases are real.

Some members of the public even openly denounced the conditional movement control orders, claiming that such orders were merely for the “survival of the Perikatan Nasional government”, without which it would collapse anytime.

It would appear that continuing the conditional movement control orders or a total nationwide lockdown is not the way to resolve the overwhelming number of new cases – because none of these measures seems to be effective in curbing the coronavirus.

Instead, these partial lockdowns are hurting the economy and eroding the people’s wellbeing, thus resulting in rising unemployment, business closures and bankruptcies. What happens if, because of this, the crime rate increases as well, owing to the loss of people’s sources of income?

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The domestic trade and consumer affairs minister’s recent claim that the number of new business start-ups has been much higher than the number of business closures is doubtful – unless he can come up with facts and figures, including the revenue earned by these start-ups.

Instead of halting so many things to control the coronavirus, it is best for the administration and the relevant enforcement agencies to relook at how to effectively enforce the standard procedures, identify loopholes and analyse the real cause of the rise in infections.

The ministries of health, foreign affars and science, technology and innovation should seek help, advice and expertise from Singapore and New Zealand. Both these countries have successfully curbed the spread of the coronavirus – despite having called for general elections at around the same time.

Do not demostrate your “know-all” ego, claiming you can handle it and everything is under control. Seek the assistance of other nations that are ahead in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Come on, our nation is in dire straits now. Will protecting your egos help to ensure the nation’s wellbeing and lift the economy? Please do not – because of your political survival – be willing to forgo any such help, advice or assistance. We are not your political collateral damage. We are all human beings with precious lives.

Source: whcheng18.wordpress.com/blog

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