MP SPEAKS | In his New Year message, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin listed five priorities for 2021 in an integrated national recovery strategy post Covid-19.
But in less than two weeks, these five priorities cannot stand up to public scrutiny, in particular priority three to “ensure political stability with strong emphasis on good governance as a foundation for sustainable economic recovery” and priority four to “uphold the country’s sovereignty and strengthen Malaysia’s position on the world stage”.
We were once some 50 positions behind China, the country where the pandemic started and which had a population 40 times that of Malaysia.
But now we overtook China in the number of Covid-19 cases under the third wave of the pandemic. With uncontrolled surges of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, we have left China far behind as we are now ranked No 68 while China is ranked No 82 among countries in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.
We have overtaken Myanmar and, if we continue to have a daily increase of 3,000 cases, we will make a triple jump sometime today and be ranked No. 65 among countries with the most cumulative total of cases.
Where is “political stability” and “good governance” when Parliament and the state assembly sittings have to be suspended?
Is this what Muhyiddin meant by his priority four “to strengthen Malaysia’s position on the world stage”?
Can Muhyiddin explain why Parliaments in other countries can function in a state of emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic but not in Malaysia?
This is why Muhyiddin should not pile more infamy on Malaysia by suspending the legislative and scrutiny function of Parliament and the state assemblies, particularly when the war against the disease cannot be won unless there is an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach.
It is heartening to note that health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has revealed yesterday that the Health Ministry is currently in talks with private healthcare providers and looking at working together with them to increase Malaysia’s healthcare system capacity, currently stretched to breaking point.
This should have been done right at the beginning of the pandemic but it is better late than never.
In fact, the Health Ministry should not only enlist the co-operation of private healthcare providers in accepting non-Covid cases from government hospitals, but also in working out a long-term Covid-19 plan to avoid another MCO at all costs.
Penang state executive councillor for housing, local government and country planning Jagdeep Singh Deo has said that about 100 private clinics under the Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society are ready to offer free vaccination to Penang residents.
The Health Ministry should have a long-term plan, which includes mobilising all private practitioners in the country in the war against the dreaded disease.
When can the government overcome this black mark and have in place an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to the war against the pandemic?
The second black mark to Muhyiddin’s priority four is the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2021 released yesterday. It said that human rights in Malaysia have deteriorated under the Perikatan Nasional government, which aggressively cracked down on freedom of speech and peaceful assembly as well as made attacks on the media.
Is the cabinet prepared to answer all these allegations of human rights violations by the Human Rights Watch Report, in particular with reference to the cases of South China Morning Post correspondent Tashny Sukumaran, CodeBlue editor Boo Su-Lyn as well as the contempt proceeding against Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan?
Will the third black mark be delivered when Transparency International (TI) releases its 2020 TI Corruption Perception Index (CPI) after Malaysia had achieved its best performance in 25 years in the TI CPI 2019 Report, which had a single-year improvement of six points for TI CPI score of 53 and 10 placings for TI CPI ranking of 51?
There have been other black marks in the recent times – like the report that Vietnam would surpass Malaysia to become the fourth largest economy in Southeast Asia and the second Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking released on Dec 21 last year, where Malaysia lost out to New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand and Bangladesh.
Will Malaysia get a better report in the January 2021 Bloomberg Resilience Index?
It must be the task of all political parties and all MPs to “strengthen Malaysia’s position on the world stage” and this should be the unifying theme in Parliament, which should not be suspended.
But is Muhyiddin prepared to announce that the emergency declared solely to fight the pandemic will not result in the suspension of Parliament and the state assemblies so as to demonstrate that there are political stability and good governance in Malaysia?
LIM KIT SIANG is the DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.