Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Najib Razak, levelled criticism at the current government over its handling of the latest surge in the pandemic.
What is the point of a Movement Control Order that doesn’t, well, actually control movement?
That seemed to be the point of a recent statement from former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who said the current implementation of the MCO was not only largely ineffective, but also very unfair, as certain sectors were still being allowed to operate normally despite some which were proven to have been contributors to previous surges in cases and clusters.
Najib specifically pointed out that construction sites and factories were being allowed to operate, despite having contributed to a significant increase in Covid-19 cases during the third wave of the pandemic.
His comments come amid a swell of grousing from KL-area residents, some of whom have noted that in their neighbourhoods, everything looks much the same.
“Nothing has really been affected that much,” one person wrote. “In our neighbourhood, car washes, retail shops, hardware stores, and auto workshops are all open as usual. During the week, the whole area is completely full of cars. It certainly doesn’t look like there’s any sort of lockdown happening.”
Another resident expressed similar thoughts in an interview with The Straits Times, noting the half-hearted approach to the lockdown and asking, “How will the numbers go down like this?”
In a stark contrast to the first MCO, trade and distribution activities allowed this time include pharmacies, convenience stores, mini marts, laundrettes (except self-service laundromats), restaurants, furniture stores, gold shops, electrical goods and electronics stores, book stores, hardware shops, pet shops, workshops, car sales centres, and petrol stations.
In his criticism, Najib called attention to restaurants and other eateries as being notable victims of the unfair patchwork of restrictions, saying that furniture and jewellery shops and even luxury boutiques in shopping malls were apparently being allowed to operate as usual, while tough restrictions were placed on eateries, causing a devastating loss of business in the food and beverage sector.
“The longer the extension of this relaxed MCO 2.0, the longer the injustice will continue, and the harder it will be for our healthcare system to recover,” said Najib.
He repeated his calls for stricter SOPs to be put into place, and also for more aid to be provided to those most affected by the mandated closures and various restrictions. Finally, he questioned the effectiveness of such a poorly implemented MCO that doesn’t seem to actually be controlling anybody’s movements in an effective way.
“Temporary sacrifices are far better than long-term impacts on the well-being of the people and the economy,” he noted. “A strict MCO for now is better than a prolonged, ‘half-baked’ MCO.”
New cases continue to remain above 3,000 logged each day, sometimes considerably more so. The current MCO, though apparently “half-baked,” affects all states except Sarawak and is scheduled to expire on February 4.
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