The government must spend this MCO wisely and not remain out of touch and caught up in the political drama for their own self-interest and power

The current Perikatan Nasional Government has not only failed in managing the current surge of Covid-19 cases in our country, but more importantly they also failed to learn from their own mistakes and gaps in handling the pandemic especially during the first wave and also during the first implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

While Covid-19 is an unprecedented public health crisis, but even after a year, the common phrase that “Mistakes are often the best teachers” does not seem to apply.

While MCO indeed is effective to break the chain of infection, but it comes at a huge cost. It is important to remember that MCO basically only buys time, and not solve the problem. The first MCO was meant for our government to prepare for the worst-case scenario and prepare a long-term strategy to address this pandemic.

However, even after a year of Covid-19, we do not seem to have a sustainable, predictable, specific, and long-term strategy to deal with the pandemic. Many gaps and issues from the first and second wave were not addressed which has put us back in the current predicament.

That is why it is vital that we spend this “borrowed time” wisely especially in improving every aspects of our health system. We cannot repeatedly use MCO to bail us out over and over again.

On top of that, the PN government has not learnt from their lack of clarity and urgency in communications especially to build confidence and promote better compliance among the public. During the first MCO, the PM should have remembered how his ambiguous announcement for implementation caused much confusion, uncertainty and even panic resulting in big crowds at supermarkets and border controls, among others.

This time round, even when they clearly had time to prepare the required SOP before the PM’s announcement, they did not announce it immediately, instead leaving it to the last-minute right before the implementation of the second MCO. This not only do not inspire confidence among investors, but without specific and clear communications, how can the government expect proper compliance of the necessary SOP among the public and businesses.

We must face it that the current surge could have been prevented. Putrajaya has failed to learn from their own mistakes, and because of it we have to face another MCO that will take a toll not just on the economy, but also harmed livelihood, affected mental health, and jeopardise access to health care for other who are also suffering from other pre-existing health conditions.

Now that the MCO is announced, the government must look at 5 main areas.

  1. Increase mass testing and isolation capabilities including transparent data sharing and clear SOPs;
    • The government must be clear on the goals or target during this 2-week MCO 2.0. They should also be transparent on their plans how to boost their testing capacity, contact tracing abilities and isolation capabilities, and also reveal their parameters to measure the success of their approach.
    • Daily numbers should not be the main barometer to determine the success of the approach, but rather our testing rate, contact tracing speed and proper isolation capabilities.
    • Sustainable plans to manage once MCO is lifted before the full implementation of the vaccine.
  2. Develop a long-term strategy that strengthens multiple aspects of our health system including forming a National Covid-19 Consultative Taskforce consisting of experts from the public and private sector and state governments to advice Putrajaya and to coordinate localised approach in each State;
  3. Provide mental health counselling for those affected due to isolation including emotional support for our front liners that are fatigued and drained due to this prolonged pandemic;
  4. Government must look into providing adequate financial assistance including automatic extension of the loan moratorium to provide some relief for those badly affected by the MCO;
  5. Address the digital education gap between the rich and poor and urban and rural divide.

This MCO basically buys time, but it cannot solve the problem. The government cannot use the excuse that this is an unprecedented pandemic as right now we not only should have a year of experience, but also other countries to learn from.

That is why the government must spend this time wisely and not remain out of touch and caught up in the political drama for their own self-interest and power.

Dr. Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP FOR BANDAR KUCHING
Media statement (2) by Dr. Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen in Kuching on Tuesday, 12th January 2021