Three reasons why we will be marking the most bleak and grim 64th National Day in the nation’s history in three days’ time

There are three reasons why Malaysians will be marking the most bleak and grim 64th National Day in the nation’s history in three days’ time.

The first reason is that we have failed two critical tests to avoid passing the 1.7 million mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases and the 16,000-mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 deaths on 64th National Day on August 31, 2021 and Malaysia is ranked No. 23 among nations with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

In fact, at the present rate of Covid-19 infection and deaths, we are likely to pass the two grim milestones for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases and deaths tomorrow while we will attain the 23rd ranking by overtaking the Czechia Republic today.

The second reason is that we have fallen to the bottom of the Bloomberg’s monthly Covid Resilience Ranking of 53 economies of more than US$200 billion.

The ranking was launched in November last year and updated monthly ever since. Malaysia’s best ranking was 16th out of 53 countries in January 2021 but fell to 35th by May, 51st in June, 52nd in July and now 53rd in August.

In contrast, Singapore was ranked No. 11 last November and ranked No. 8 in August.

This is Bloomberg’s comment on Malaysia:

“Despite covering nearly half of the population with vaccines and implementing reopening plans for the inoculated, new cases per 100,000 reported in Malaysia over the past month swelled to one of the highest in the world.

“The country’s central bank has also halved its 2021 economic growth target.”

When the ranking started in November last year, five of the top 10 rankings were in Asia and of the bottom five rankings, two were from Europe and three from South America.

In the latest August 2021 ranking, Singapore was the only Asian country among the top 10 nations (No. 8) as the rest of the countries are from Europe, while the bottom five rankings are all Southeast Asian nations, namely Thailand (49th), Vietnam (50th), Indonesia (51st) and the Philippines (52nd).

This came amid a reversal of fortunes for many countries that were previously held as models of success in combatting Covid-19, as the highly contagious and virulent Delta variant sweeps across the world.

For example, the long-reigning champion of the rankings, New Zealand, plummeted 26 spots to the 29th rank in just a month after the country imposed a lockdown when the Delta variant “infiltrated its fortress-like defences”.

Rankings also dropped in Israel and the United States, where the progress in mass vaccination and rapid reopening were beaten back by the Delta variant surge.

European countries, on the other hand, now occupy nine of the top 10 positions, thanks to their strategy of widespread immunisation and reopenings based on their vaccination status.

The Bloomberg report noted: “The Scandinavian nation has administered enough shots to cover 60 percent of its population, kept fatalities at a very low level and opened its borders to vaccinated travellers. Low death rates, quick vaccine rollouts and an embrace of travel put the Netherlands and Finland second and third.

“Nearly everywhere else, Delta’s advance has been unprecedented. From Japan and South Korea that relied on social compliance, to mainland China and Vietnam that used strict curbs, every approach that managed to stem the pathogen’s spread has been challenged by the variant, dashing hopes that the end of the Covid-19 era was in sight.”

The third reason why the 64th National Day will be most bleak and grim is the unveiling of the new Cabinet yesterday – which had been assailed from all quarters as “kerajaangagal2.0”.

It has raised the question whether the Pakatan Harapan and the Opposition should continue with the Confidence-Supply-Reform Agreement (CSRA) with the Ismail Sabri government.

I would argue that the kakistocratic new Cabinet strengthens the argument for a CSRA agreement to free the country from political maelstrom for the next 12 – 18 months to single-mindedly focus on turning the tides of defeat to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic with its high death toll to return Malaysia to normality, so that we can embark on economic and national recovery.

I believe that the best Prime Minister for Malaysia today is Anwar Ibrahim, or alternatively, Shafie Apdal and not Ismail Sabri, but we must go beyond the games of numbers as the replacement of Ismail Sabri as Prime Minister is not going to be Anwar or Shafie, but probably Azmin Ali or Zahid Hamidi.

Are we going to have kerajaangagal2.0, kerajaangagal3.0, kerajaangagal4.0 ad afinitum?

I have a Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to be a world-class great nation but we are today faced with an existential threat of Covid-19 pandemic and the Malaysian Dream must wait as from the latest statistics, 15,550 people have died of Covid-19, we have a cumulative total of 1,662,913 Covid-19 cases, a peak of 265,695 active cases with 982 ICU patients and 470 patients under intubation.

We owe it to all Malaysians and future generations, regardless of race, religion, region or politics to put all differences aside to unite to fight this existential threat to win the war against Covid-19 so that we can return to normality and embark on economic and national recovery.

We are faced with an unprecedented national crisis as the new coronavirus does not differentiate race, religion, region or politics, but a crisis yields unique opportunities and Malaysians must tap such unique opportunities to overcome the existential threat.

This is the basis for the institutional and parliamentary reforms to win the war against Covid-19 pandemic.

Let us rise above divisive politics for the next 12 to 18 months to destabilise the government so that we can win the existential threat of Covid-19 pandemic before the mandate is returned to Malaysians to elect the government of their choice and to turn to reality the Malaysian Dream for the country to be a world-class great nation.

After the three reasons for the most bleak and grim 64th National Day, let us have hope and confidence that that national unity to win the war against Covid-19 pandemic will yield a better and greater Malaysia after the next 12-18 months!

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 28th August 2021)

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