Does this government really care for us?

Jacqueline Ann Surin

Modified 31 Mar 2020, 12:54 am

COMMENT | Last Friday, Malaysians were treated to a brief demonstration of honest admission by a politician. Newly appointed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin conceded on national television that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government now in power "may not be the government you voted for".

He didn’t stop there. Instead, he continued with an assurance: "But I want you all to know this government cares for you."

Personally, honest acknowledgement of culpability from a politician is a relief, and serves to remind other politicians about who they need to be accountable to. But any attempted assurance by those in power “that this government cares” for us needs to be assessed against available evidence. And the fact is, over the past few weeks, there is enough evidence to signal that Muhyiddin’s government is not as benevolent as he wants us to believe.

First, there was the act of excluding the five pro-Pakatan Harapan states from the prime minister’s special Covid-19 meeting in mid-March. That meeting was meant to coordinate enforcement of the movement control order across the nation. Among the states that were left out was Selangor, which at that point clearly had the highest record of Covid-19 cases.

Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali apologised, stressing that Muhyiddin had instructed for all heads of state governments to be invited. And yet, Zuki openly admits that meeting invitations were only sent out to chief ministers and menteris besar of the PN-held states.

How does a prime minister’s expressed instructions get reinterpreted to mean something else for all Harapan-held states? Your guess is as good as mine. And on a matter as critical as fighting the spread of a pandemic, this should not have happened under the new government.

As a Selangor resident, it certainly didn’t feel to me like the new government cared about what happened to the people of Selangor. And I’m fairly certain my Penang relatives and friends would have felt exactly...

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