From crisis management readiness started way back in December 2019, Malaysia have done a rather effective management of the crisis with strict lock down & continuos testing – the number of active cases has continued to reduce from a peak 2596 on 5th April 2020 to 2,103 as at 19th April 2020. In total, 3,197 people have recovered from coronavirus infection making a recovery rate of 59.32%. Compared to other neighbours, Malaysia is doing more testing indeed. Graph source: Our World in Data.
Indonesia on the other hand, where some Indonesians were not happy when Datuk Dr Musa Nordin tagged the country as a time bomb of pandemic has registered 6,575 cases with 582 deaths and 686 recoveries. The recovery rate at this point is 10.43%. They are just shy away from Singapore who has 6,588 confirmed cases.
Related: MH370: Lesson in Crisis Management
And yet we have screw-ups in how we managing this global pandemic although most of these screw-ups seemed to be nipped in the bud before the situation got worse in Malaysia. But in US, the commander in chief keeps shooting himself in the foot and hijacks a simple coronavirus briefing for something else.
In Malaysia, we don’t have time to play around or to pull cheap political stunt when we are facing a major pandemic (or do we?). Further we just had the second extension of the lock down till end of April 2020 and it is showing positive results. The key thing to do is to sustain this containment.
Double Standard of MCO for Politicians?
Lately the social media was buzzed with the news of the Deputy Health Minister and a Perak State EXCO member not only flouting the lock down restrictions but also broke the cardinal rule of social distancing. They were both caught on camera of having a meal with another 20 – 30 people sitting closely at a Maahad Tahfiz school in Lenggong during the movement control order (MCO).
Related: Double Standards, Once Again
(All these images of VIPs and politicians who hardly exercise proper social distancing during the nationwide lock down. Images sources: Facebook)
It did not take long for many to criticize Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali for his actions violating the lock down and social distancing. Even the usually silent MCA did not hold their words on this rather bad example:-
The Deputy Health Minister should have known better than to have a meal in a large group during an event, says MCA vice president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng.
He said Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who was seen having a meal with a group of tahfiz students in Lenggong, Perak while the movement control order (MCO) is in force, was a bad role model as he is part of the Health Ministry.
“Noor Azmi should know better about the basics of MCO on social distancing and the ban on gatherings.
“Furthermore, it was his ministry that formulated and decided on the dos and don’ts during the MCO,” he said.
Tan added that Noor Azmi should not only be aware of the rules but should adhere to it more stringently than others. “Unfortunately, he has shown to be an example of a bad role model,” said Tan.
Another is Deputy Rural Development Minister Abdul Rahman Mohamad who pictures of him allegedly celebrating his birthday during the lock down were widely shared on social media. Obviously these politicians have not heard of David Clark of New Zealand.
New Zealand’s health minister has called himself an “idiot” after breaking the country’s lockdown by driving his family to the beach.
David Clark admitted the 12-mile (20km) drive was “a clear breach of the lockdown principles”. He offered his resignation to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but kept his job because of the ongoing crisis.
But he has been demoted in cabinet rankings and also lost a secondary position of associate finance minister.
Related: Be Outraged But Be Fair Too
These politicians’ breach of the lock down for whatever reason it may be is indeed a serious matter considering that the authorities have been very strict in arresting and punishing those who broke the lock down orders even for those who seems to have valid reasons such funeral or waiting for free food:-
Recently, the story of a poor old uncle sparked outrage on the internet when it was discovered that he was given a RM1,000 fine for supposedly disobeying the Movement Control Order despite locals insisting that he was just waiting to receive free lunch from a restaurant who was providing food aid in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan,
According to residents who stayed in the neighbouring village of Ayer Kuning, Tampin, the poor old uncle, known as Mr. Li, was waiting for their food at a local restaurant in the area at about 10:30am last Saturday (11th April), when he was suddenly greeted by the police who assumed that the senior citizen was walking outside and violating the order.
He was promptly faced with a RM1,000 fine for allegedly breaking the law.
Two men from Sungai Siput, Perak who have been badly affected by the movement control order (MCO) chose to go to jail instead of paying a fine after they were caught fishing together.
According to Sin Chew Daily, 45-year-old Chen and 56-year-old Zhong are both roof-renovation workers with a daily wage of RM100. However, they have not had any income ever since the MCO started leaving them no choice but to fish for their own food.
Chen and Zhong said in magistrates court that they had no money and had to go out fishing so that they had food to eat. Their purpose for fishing was for their own consumption, without any intention to sell their catch to others.
However, because they had no money, they opted to go to jail for three months instead of paying the fine of RM1,000.
Of course, Perak police had informed that eventhough those present, including the deputy minister and the state EXCO claimed to have seated at a distance from one another, they will proceed with the investigations. The question is why the police decided to do investigations for this case when for other ordinary citizens who break the lock down rules – some desperate for food, the action of punishment seems to be done faster.
So will we see these politicians be fined RM1,000 in the coming days for breaking the lock down rules now?
Selective Aid Distribution?
Back in March, the NGOs helping to feed the poor and homeless during the MCO were advised to stop delivering food directly to the needy but instead requested to send the food to one collection point at Welfare Department (JKM) centres and it will then be disbursed by Rela and the army.
Then this surfaced:-
Former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh today questioned if the ministry was being selective in distributing the 1,000 food baskets promised to help households cope with the restrictions under the movement control order (MCO).
In a statement, she said food baskets had yet to be delivered to 54 parliamentary constituencies held by the opposition.
She said any delay in distribution would affect families, especially those from the B40 segment, as the MCO enters its third phase.
“The minister must be prepared to manage the aid more fairly if the MCO is to be extended,” Yeoh said in a Facebook post, referring to Women and Family Development Minister Rina Harun.
She also included a list of the constituencies she said had yet to receive the aid, which include Shah Alam, Sepang, Subang, Bukit Mertajam, Penampang and Kampar.
It is possible that these food baskets have been distributed in parliamentary constituencies held by the opposition but bypassing the relevant opposition MPs. It was the same when BN was in power where Federal aid is often channelled to the opposition controlled constituencies by BN appointed agents instead of to the opposition politicians.
However the problem with this is that firstly there is no accountability whatsoever – how one can ensure that the help have been given to the right people and secondly at a time of national crisis, it is time for all politicians whether they are from the ruling or opposition to be working together.
This is not time to do self campaigning. It is the same if the country is at war – will the Ministers pick and choose where they want to send their aid to the needy and practice double standards if this falls under the opposition? Will these Ministers be willing to win some battles but lose the war in the end?
At a point when there is a national crisis, it is best to leave politics and double standards aside.
If a poor, hungry old man can be hauled and fined for breaking the lock down rules, the same standards should be applied to VVIPs and politicians who have been well fed & knows the rules all too well. In fact, they should be fined double or triple.
One thing that the world had learned from this pandemic is that the virus does not choose who it will infect – it does not matter if you are rich or poor, Asian or European, and whether you live in cold or warm countries -if you don’t take the necessary precautions, you will be one of the statistics.
Even Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of UK was infected with the coronavirus, what more the rest of us who may be more exposed to the infection. So please stop this nonsense of deploying double standards when there is a global pandemic.