As Malaysia goes into total lockdown from 1 -14 June, the rakyat seems to have mixed feelings about it. Although most people agree that the lockdown is needed, people began to question – Could the lockdown have been prevented, should action be taken earlier? Are the measures taken by the authorities stringent enough? Will Malaysia be free once again?
Despite different opinions on the total lockdown, one thing is for sure – everyone wants Covid-19 to be over with, one way or another. And with that, people naturally question the government’s approach to ensure that the lockdown is implemented in the shortest amount of time while also making sure it never comes back to bite us.
Among the first to critique Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, stating that he was taking the side of multinational companies as several manufacturing sectors are allowed to continue operating during the lockdown. He implied the government allowed this in the interest of keeping the global economic supply chains intact.
“Who will uphold justice for millions of ordinary citizens and small traders who will make sacrifices during this full lockdown while large companies owned by multinational corporations and wealthy corporations continue making profits without disruption?” Najib Razak asked.
“The Movement Control Order was already half-baked, don’t let the total lockdown become a tiga suku (three-quarter) lockdown,” Najib Razak stated on Facebook.
Diving in deeper, we got the chance to ask industry leaders and association presidents on their take regarding the lockdown. To which Prof Dato’ Dr. Jayles Yeoh, Immediate Past President of ASEAN Retail-Chains & Franchise Federation (ARFF) mentioned, “The Prime Minister’s Pemerkasa Plus Economic Stimulus Package announced yesterday is timely in view of the adverse economic conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Personally, I would call it a caring disbursement plan, because it is packaged to help Malaysians whether the dark clouds at least for now.”
“Businesses also have a fighting chance to ride out of difficult economic conditions. Most commendable is the PM’s determination to inject additional funds to increase the vaccination capacity to 150,000 jabs per day. With that under control, we can breathe safely for now. Although the education sector is not mentioned, it’s heartening to note that tertiary education is allowed to continue online,” He added.
ASEAN Retail-Chains & Franchise Federation (ARFF) President, Dato’ Mike Loh, commented, “We at ARFF sincerely thank the government for the latest PEMERKASA PLUS and support the Lockdown as we need to ensure our health care system doesn’t collapse. We are also touched by ministers and deputy ministers donating 3 months of their salary to the Pandemic Fund.”
Then added by saying, “However, saying that we need banks to help is like going back to how the government bailed them out during the financial crisis in 1997-98 and 2007-08. The money used is the rakyat’s money; so now banks and financial institutions should expand the moratorium into automatic and opt-out basis. Banks and financial institutions should extend loans, leases, and any credit facilities given before 18th March 2020 (pre-pandemic), and interest to be based on the cost of fund basis. Banks and financial institutions need to step up and sacrifice some of their profit for 2021 for the rakyat and the Country.”
Datuk Seri Garry Chua, Immediate Past President of President of Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), said, “The lockdown is timely, though a little late due to poor control, especially during Ramadan Bazaar and ease of avoiding roadblocks while traveling interstate. Easy and convenient methods of large-scale vaccination process must be given the utmost priority in order to reduce and control the pandemic, just as China has done so successfully. We should learn from countries that have successfully controlled the spread of the coronavirus since Malaysia have good diplomatic ties with many countries, especially China.”