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COMMENT | This month Malaysia has entered one of the darkest periods in its history: record Covid-19 cases and deaths are being reported daily, two weeks ago today emergency rule was declared with unchecked powers and the largest contraction in the economy since Malaysia became an independent nation has hit hard, with growing hunger and hardship.

An unfamiliar chill is setting into the national bones, as disquiet, anxiety, and shock are resonating. Many long ambivalent to the "new normal" are realising that there is, in fact, a "new abnormal" – a crisis of multi-dimensions that lacks leadership and clear resolution.

The health, economic and political crises the country is facing are reinforcing each other. The key question is not whether Malaysia will get out of it – there will be a spring. Malaysians are resilient and by comparison to many parts of the world, the country is in a stronger comparative position to harness its resources.

If it values its most important resource – its people – it will get out of the situation sooner. Democracy’s roots in Malaysia are strong and attempts to trim established political practices will result in regrowth. The main questions are how much damage the darkness will bring, how long it will last and what can be done to mitigate the ongoing shocks to...

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