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Emergency will help nation to recover

Malaysians have three choices — cut down on politicking, ease up on restrictions and manage the economy. Which of these would be the most likely one?

On politics, the country has not found a formula that can fit into the political development track it has got used to in the last 60 years. General elections have been held every five years and coalition politics has characterized the government in power.

Political parties felt pushed to participate in this development for fear of missing out on an opening or risk losing their relevance. The established and newer parties would go to any extent to get into the game and gain from asserting influence. We began to see party-hopping and new "faces" emerging. Uncertainty prevailed as individuals vied for attention from leaders.

On the subject of pandemic restrictions, one of the gains won by the government has been its ability to gather everyone onto its platform to tackle the crisis in a determined and measured way.

Its regime of mutually helping one another, staying at home and adopting a meticulous method of keeping oneself clean has worked for the most part. Thus far, the human needs for more socialisation and doing things out in numbers have not helped to bring down the daily counts of new Covid-19 cases.

For health frontliners and most people, the expectation seemed to be that the situation would require a more drastic response.

This came on Jan 13 with the government deciding to reintroduce the Movement Control Order (MCO) in areas with the highest number of new cases. The public heaved a sigh of relief in the hope that things may get better.

Lastly, economy. Recovery can be ensured if the government continues with its programs to revive businesses. Together with the banks and other financial institutions, the situation has improved to the benefit of the industry players.

As for people who are strapped for cash and lack a steady income due to failed businesses, the government has put in place services such as loan moratoriums, withdrawal of savings from public fund institutions, and the extension of operating hours for businesses. All these have led to a win-win business climate for people to thrive during the pandemic.

The economy is also ready to move on to shoulder the plight of the government and the people on the back of high world demand for the country's LNG and palm oil and financial tie-ups with China's economy.

The choice in the end, to the people's surprise, came with one stroke taken by the government to announce a state of emergency for the country effective Jan 13.

The purpose is to give the government a freer hand to deal with the spike in cases, reprioritize the needs of the economy and stymie the ever-continuing political shenanigans.


Former ambassador,
Kuala Lumpur

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