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Covid, systemic failure, desperate measures

It has been failure after failure, U-turn after U-turn, lockdown after ineffective lockdown, and rising Covid cases since emergency rule was declared

The election losers are now ruling the nation - Photograph: Bernama/Malay Mail

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It started off pretty rosy for an immoral regime that came to power on the back of buy-ups and betrayals.

When the pandemic began to spread in Malaysia in the first quarter of 2020, Perikatan Nasional (PN) had just seized power. Even back then, its ministers were already beginning to collectively illustrate a culture of sheer incompetence,

Two of them instantly come to mind: the health minister, who convinced many that he knew next-to-nothing about the virus by prescribing the drinking of warm water to kill it, and the higher education minister, who was busy trying to cheer students up using TikTok instead of tackling the real problems students, staff and institutions were facing then and are still facing now.

Both, and many of their many colleagues, have remained rather quiet since, preferring to makan gaji buta (get paid without doing much work) rather than doing any real work as our elected representatives.

It was as if this backdoor regime was cursed from the start, just as we evidently are now.

But, somehow, luck – and possibly cunning – seemed to be on its side. Its leader, the-man-now-named-Mahiaddin, managed to convince the Agong that they were legitimate representatives of the people and that sittings in Parliament were unnecessary and dangerous because of Covid. All of them evidently had not heard of digital technology, webinars and even Zoom.

And they saw no danger in allowing the Sabah state election to go ahead with minimum physical distancing, leading to a major spreading of the virus.

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Before that, the Covid numbers were relatively low – cue, much patting of the regime’s back, a glossy video of ‘our’ success, made by a foreign dentist, that went viral, and the emergence of a (then) national hero, the health director general.

As PN’s luck and duplicity continued, a few months later, after an initial rebuff, the Agong granted the regime its request for a nationwide state of emergency. Purportedly to bring Covid to its knees.

But, of course, emergency rule has done no such thing. It has been failure after failure, U-turn after U-turn, lockdown after ineffective lockdown, and rising Covid cases since.

Some say the country is on the verge of a structural meltdown, with a regime that remains both clueless and indifferent to the despair and suffering of the people.  

This could very well be true, judging by the stupid and insulting public relations gimmicks they have come up with, such as their staged ‘Maggi mee’ (instant noodle) meals in videos that went viral.

They may have thought this was the way to ‘show’ their jiwa rakyat (public spiritedness), but all we saw was a bunch of privileged politicians mocking ordinary people and laughing at their suffering.

But they have been doing worse things throughout the past year.

They know that, like a gathering storm, the suffering rakyat are getting desperate and angry.

So, like the slimeballs that these politicians and their apparatchiks are, they have tried to shift our attention away from their failures to easy targets and so they hope, gain our trust.

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The first, as we have seen from the beginning of the pandemic until now, are the migrant workers, especially the undocumented ones. Such is the way of xenophobic, racist regimes.

The migrants are depicted as dirty scroungers when the truth is, many of them are eking out a living, often under exploitative, modern slavery conditions, doing an honest day’s (and night’s) job for a pittance. They contribute to our economy, doing the jobs we don’t wish to do. For their efforts, they are often harassed and blackmailed by their agents and employers and, of course, the authorities. 

They are often enough blamed for the spread of the pandemic when the unhealthy living conditions their exploiters put them under are hardly addressed.

And the unfortunate undocumented ones are now rounded up by the authorities in the most inhumane manner and shoved into cramped and unhygienic detention centres pending deportation.

Second, religion and narrow conceptions of ‘morality’ also play a role to help prop up a failed regime during these moments.

Suddenly, as if pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the LGBTQ communities have been thrust into the spotlight as potential destroyers not only of the ‘faith’ but also of Malaysian society.

This is utter rot, of course, given how innocuous and non-confrontational these fellow human beings are. If anything, they wish to stay out of the limelight, lead their lives as normally and peacefully as they can and not be harassed, intimidated and bullied, especially by the authorities.

Yes, they are easy targets, as the authorities are clearly aware. But targeting them, like targeting the undocumented (and documented) migrant workers will not clear up the Covid mess we – and this regime – have got ourselves into.

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Clearly, the new-name prime minister and his bunch of bodoh sombong (dim and arrogant) misfits need help to save this country. They can do no worse than to reopen Parliament and get all the representatives of the rakyat together to discuss and debate the best options available.

There really is no other way out of this public health and economic crisis that is literally killing innocent Malaysians.

Rom Nain
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
30 June 2021

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Hakimi Abdul Jabar
2 Jul 2021 6.47am

SOMEONE MUST BEAR FULL RESPONSIBILITY

Malaysians must be aware that since the Emergency Proclamation, on July 1, 2021, as a comparison, China with a population of 1,444,857,722 – that’s 1.444 BILLION – has 91,792 Covid-19 cases, has 86,718 recoveries and 4,636 deaths. Whereas Malaysia with a population of only 32,773,974 has 758,967 Covid-19 cases, 688,260 recoveries and 5,254 deaths/fatalities.

On 12 January 2021, at Noon, Malaysia ONLY had 141,533 Covid-19 cases, 110,584 recoveries and ONLY 559 DEATHS/FATALITIES!

Who issued the Emergency Proclamation? Has it really alleviated the severity of Covid-19 in Malaysia? Did the Emergency Proclamation and measures taken in pursuance actually reduce the transmission of the virus?

Wong Soak Koon
1 Jul 2021 11.45am

Good piece Rom.

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