"Well, the basic principle is openness, transparency and fully keeping the public informed."
- South Korean foreign minister Kang, Kyung-wha on the strategy towards Covid-19 pandemic
COMMENT | With the extension of the movement control order, the big question is does Perikatan Nasional (PN) have an exit strategy? The South Korean foreign minister - whose quote from a BBC interview opens this piece – accurately describes the dilemma some Malaysians find themselves in when it comes to the government’s response to this pandemic.
The reality is that a government created out of deceit and treachery and held together by personal cooperation - as articulated by Sabah Umno chairperson Bung Moktar Radin - is unable to articulate a cohesive vision of tackling this pandemic and more importantly, a post-pandemic phase.
As the Singaporean foreign minister rightly pointed out, this pandemic “… is an acid test of every single country's quality of healthcare, standard of governance and social capital. If any one of this tripod is weak, it will be exposed and exposed quite unmercifully by this epidemic”, and what we have had are small feel-good moments of personality politics, malfeasance in terms of food aid, unequal application of the MCO (movement control order) laws but very little substantive policy on how to handle this pandemic.
As someone who is firmly in the “more testing camp”, in the words of the South Korean foreign minister, ”… testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus…", I am sceptical of the targeted testing of this regime. With asymptomatic carriers, this makes even so-called “green zones” suspect.
Furthermore, what we have been witness to is a slavish devotion to Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah (below) and an almost uncritical press more interested in burnishing the credentials of the DG than in reporting about the situations in the frontlines. After a period of docility and puppy love towards the health DG, voices are...