World offers a variety of lessons in Covid-19 pandemic – let us in Malaysia learn the best lessons instead of practising the worst ones in containing the coronavirus and restarting the economic engine badly devastated by the pandemic

The world offers a variety of lessons in the Covid-19 pandemic – let us in Malaysia learn the best lessons instead of practising the worst ones in containing the coronavirus and restarting the economic engine badly devastated by the pandemic.

Today is full two months since the imposition of movement of control (MCO) on March 18, 2020.

The global picture of the Covid-19 pandemic has undergone a sea-change in the past two months. It reached 178 countries and territories with 70 of them having reported fatalities, but today, the disease has reached 222 countries and territories, 183 of which have reported fatalities.

On March 18, 2020, total global cases had just passed the 200,000 mark with fatalities less than 9,000 deaths, about half of which were from China. Today, the global total of confirmed cases have increased more than 21 times and passed the 4.7 million mark while fatalities have increased over 35 times with over 313,000 deaths.

When Malaysia imposed the MCO on March 18, we were the top 18th country in the world in terms of number of Covid-19 cases, and the top 33rd country in terms of Covid-19 deaths. We are now No. 52 in world ranking in terms of number of Covid-19 cases and No. 62 in terms of Covid-19 deaths.

We should not have to experience the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, but despite that, Malaysia had not fared too badly as in the past week, the daily increase of Covid-19 cases had ranged from 16 cases to 70 cases while the toll for the week had been five deaths.

Malaysians look forward to the day when there would be zero case and zero death, but this would not mean that we have won the invisible war against Covid-19, which is going to be a long and protracted one, with experts talking that it would take five years and not just 12-24 months for a vaccine to be developed and available widely.

Yesterday, Japan, Thailand, Iceland, New Zealand and Hong Kong were among the countries and territories which recorded zero case and zero death in the last 24 hours, but this does not mean that they do not have to continue the invisible war to contain the coronavirus or that they do not have to develop and implement a strategy for their economic recovery plan.

Japan, for instance, has 16,203 cases and 713 deaths from Covid-19. New coronavirus infections reached their peak in mid-April in Japan at more than 500 a day, leading the government to declare a state of emergency on 16 April, though the restrictions were less strict than those of other countries.

Today, Japanese leaders are striving to develop an exit strategy and a roadmap for the future, balancing both human life and the economy.

There is on the one hand the horror stories in Europe and the United States where Covid-19 outbreak went on a rampage, as in Italy, from 35,713 cases on March 18 to the present 224,760 cases (increase by 6.3 times); Spain, from 14,769 cases to 276,505 cases (increase by 18.7 times); Germany, from 12,327 cases to 176,247 (increase by 14.3 times); France, from 9,634 cases to 179,365 cases (increase by 18.6 times); United Kingdom, from 3,269 cases to 240,161 (increase by 73.5 times); and United States from 9,296 to 1,506,169 (increase by 162 times).

The horror countries do not just come from the West. Brazil had on March 18 less cases than Malaysia, with 529 cases and four deaths but it had skyrocketed to become the world’s Top Third Country with the most number of Covid-19 cases, more than China, with 272,043 cases (increase of 514 times), more than the United States) and a toll of 2,537 deaths.

China was the top nation in the world in Covid-19 confirmed cases but in the last two months, it has lost out to countries like Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Iran, India and Peru.

When the MCO was imposed on March 18, there were three countries with four-digit death toll, namely China, Italy and Iran.

Today, there are 24 countries which have recorded four-digit death toll of over 1,000 Covid-19 deaths, led by the following 15 countries:

  1. United States – 89,538
  2. United Kingdom – 34,466
  3. Italy – 31,763
  4. France – 27,625
  5. Spain – 27,563
  6. Brazil – 15,633
  7. Belgium – 9,005
  8. Germany – 8,027
  9. Iran – 6,937
  10. Canada – 5,679
  11. Netherlands – 5,670
  12. Mexico – 4,765
  13. China – 4,633
  14. Turkey – 4,096
  15. Sweden – 3,674

The United States should exceed 100,000 Covid-19 deaths by the end of this month.

Buit on the other hand, we have the success stories of South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam in the invisible war against Covid-19.

I have always advocated that Malaysia should learn from the mistakes and successes of other nations in the invisible war against Covid-19 in the effort to develop new norms to live with the Covid-19 virus in a pandemic world which is going to be as long as five years.

But Malaysia seems determined to develop the worst practices in the pandemic world by locking down Parliament and nullify parliamentary oversight and scrutiny which will undermine public trust and allow the return of abuses of power, rampant corruption, revival of kleptocracy and widespread violation of human rights.

Already, serious questions are being raised, from whether Parliament had been properly summoned for an Official Opening of a new Parliamentary session by the Yang di Pertuan Agong to whether the Prime Minister and Cabinet have abused their powers with regard to the one-day Parliament tomorrow.

Will the one-day Parliament mark a new political scenario tomorrow?

MP FOR ISKANDAR PUTERI
Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 17th May 2020