Trump is the worst world leader in fighting the invisible war against Covid-19 with United States exceeding 100,000 deaths but Malaysia must not join the gallery of rogue nations by locking down Parliament and paralysing parliamentary oversight and scrutiny during the pandemic

Spain has declared 10 days of mourning starting today for the 27,000 people who have died from coronavirus in the country.

Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings across the country and on Spanish naval vessels until 5 June. It marks the longest official mourning period in Spain’s four-decade-old democracy.

By the same standard, the United States should hold 40 days of mourning for over 100,000 people have perished from the Covid-19 pandemic as according to the Worldometer’s Covid-19 Data, United States has recorded 1,725,273 Covid-19 confirmed cases and 100,545 deaths in the United States.

But this is impossible, as United States President Donald Trump is the worst world leader in fighting the invisible war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the first time, Twitter has flagged some of President Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning.

The infamy of being the world’s second worst leader in the invisible global war against Covid-19 should probably go to Trump’s “soulmate” in mocking the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil.

Brazil had catapulted from March 18 – when Malaysia imposed the movement control order MCO – from No. 24th ranking in terms of the most number of Covid-19 cases to the world’s top second nation, i.e. from 529 cases and four deaths on March 18 to 391,222 cases and 24,512 deaths (a horrendous leap of 740 times for increase of cases and 6,128 times for deaths – an even higher rate of increase of 187 times for number of cases and 867 times for deaths for the United States for the same period).

The health, economic, educational and social dimensions of the invisible war in the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented not only for Malaysia, for all nations of the world, and this is why more than a month ago, I had called for a Covid-19 Pandemic Study Centre to learn from the successes and mistakes of other nations as every country is grappling with the problem how to find the best way to contain the spread of the coronavirus, avert a resurgence and minimise overall harm to public health, society and the economy.

Although we have done fairly well in bringing the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak under control – which we should have been spared if not for the Sheraton Move and the ensuing political turmoil – the jury is still out whether we have won the invisible war against Covid-19, which must involve victory in two parts:

· Bringing the Covid-19 outbreak under control, which includes ensuring that there will be no resurgence of the coronavirus until an effective vaccine is developed and widely available – which can take up to five years; and

· An “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” exit plan strategy and blueprint to revive the Malaysian economy and educational and social life in the quickest possible time and overcome the devastating effects of the pandemic.

The return of three-digit increase of Covid-19 cases in the last two days, although primarily centred at immigration detention centres, is a warning about the resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia.

But we must not lose sight of the economic, educational and social dimensions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that 1.25 billion workers around the world, representing 38% of the global workforce, face a high risk of a pay cut or layoff.

For Malaysia, the Employers’ Federation has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic will cost more than two million people in Malaysia their jobs.

It has urged the government to increase the wage subsidy for employee retention under the economic stimulus package as the current rate is not enough for employers to meet their expenses.

Yesterday, Singapore’s government announced another 33 billion Singapore dollars (US$23.2 billion) to support its economy which has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s the fourth stimulus package that Singapore has announced since the outbreak.

Along with the previous three stimulus packages, Singapore will spend nearly 100 billion Singapore dollars (US$70.4 billion) to help businesses and households manage the economic impact of the coronavirus – almost 20% of the country’s GDP.

When is the Malaysian government’s fourth economic stimulus package?

Malaysia must not join the gallery of rogue nations, not in terms of increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths, but by locking down Parliament and paralysing parliamentary oversight and scrutiny during the pandemic as this will be the most self-defeating act to prevent Malaysia’s development of the best exit plan strategy and blueprint to win the multiple invisible war against Covid19 to save lives and livelihoods in Malaysia.

No best exit plan strategy and blueprint can be developed unless it is a “whole-of-society” one which is the outcome of the fullest and widest public study and debate, where parliamentary oversight and scrutiny is an important and indispensable element.

Two events shone out in Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassinh’s 44-year political life – firstly, when in 2009 he spearheaded the campaign over the question of “legitimacy” of the Prime Minister which led to the resignation of the Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and secondly, in 2015, when he stood up against the kleptocratic premiership of Abdullah’s successor, Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1MDB scandal, which led to his sacking as Deputy Prime Minister and subsequent sacking from UMNO.

But both these legacies of Muhyiddin will be completely overshadowed by his opportunistic and unprincipled toppling of the Pakatan Harapan government and formation of a backdoor government.

At least, Abdullah in the great tradition established by the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, had the courage and political morality to seek a vote of confidence at the first available opportunity in Parliament when he became the fifth Prime Minister which is in great contrast to Muhyiddin, who had been avoiding a vote-of-confidence test in Parliament, causing him to use the excuse of the Covid-19 pandemic to lockdown Parliament and to paralyse Parliament’s constitutional role of oversight and scrutiny of the Executive.

In his fortnight of self-quarantine because of Covid-19, is Muhyiddin likely to undo his grave wrongs to Malaysia and to stop the country from the trajectory which will end up in the infamy of locking down Parliament and paralysing parliamentary oversight and scrutiny to save his premiership?

And is such a premiership, which is dependent on tolerating kleptocracy, a return of rampant corruption, abuses of power, widespread violation of human rights and infringement of the constitutional principles of the doctrine of separation of powers and the rule of law, worth it?

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskander Puteri Lim Kit Siang on Wednesday 27th May 2020)

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