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Pandemic and politics: A troubling scenario

The authorities have to act immediately to curb the pandemic

Image by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #23312 - Wikimedia Commons

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Just 10 days into 2021, and what a period it has been with the rise in Covid-19 cases throughout the world and all things political whether here in Malaysia or in the world.

We will still be living with Covid in 2021.  Here in Malaysia, the Perikatan Nasional government is unable to come to grips with the surge in cases across the country.

The health director general is just repeating the numbers, saying it is important to reduce the rate of transmission to 0.5 to break the chain of infection. That has been the constant refrain from the beginning of the pandemic.

People just do not care anymore. The business sector does not agree to a full lockdown and have suggested that the government use the targeted approach and tighten its standard measures.

But we all know none of these measures is working. If a complete lockdown has to be done again, like in the UK to stop the transmission, why is the government so hesitant? Thaipusam and Chinese New Year are around the corner and people will travel here, there and everywhere. So how will a targeted approach work with the holidays?

The new strain of the virus is running amok and experts are saying that it is easily transmissible. Many other countries have begun vaccinating their population, and Singapore began just a few days ago.

What is happening in Malaysia?  With the numbers rapidly rising, vaccinating the people should be the country’s priority, wouldn’t you think? So where are the vaccines?

The Ministry of Health carried out a survey to find out what the public thinks about being vaccinated against Covid. The result was not so great, so will the health ministry just sit still or will it take the initiative and go on a publicity blitz and provide more information to the public to allay their fears.

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The government and the ministry seem to be so blase about the numbers, which I find mind-boggling. What is frightening is that few seem to ask these questions. Why? Maybe the politicians are more concerned about the coming general election than the wellbeing of the people!

Yes, the elections are looming. So Bersatu leaders must have been holding their breath on 6 January, worried sick that Umno would decide to do a ‘runner’, but they were given a respite: Umno will not be making any decision until its party general assembly on 31 January. Phew!

Will there be a parting of ways? Bersatu is hanging onto the coattails of Pas. And Pas, I guess, wants the best of both worlds, so to speak!

PN’s party is hanging by a thread. If there was a split among the parties, it would have a huge impact on the party’s chances in the next general election, especially if the prime minister is unwilling to meddle in the court cases of those Barisan Nasional members facing corruption charges.   

Bersatu will want to strengthen its ties with other PN pals like Pas, Sabqh Star and the Sabah Progressive Party. If they want to win in Sabah, the BN ‘fixed deposit, as state was once known, will the PM be able to trust the present Sabah government to help his own party? After Gabungan Rakyat Sabah is a combination of parties – BN, PN and Parti Bersatu Sabah. Can he trust them?

Was the sacking of BN secretary-seneral Annuar Musa, who seemed to be the poster boy for the party, the tipping point?  The media said he was seen to be too cosy with Bersatu and apparently going against his boss, who wanted him to abandon PN so that Umno would be the dominant party again. Well! It seems even poster boys can be assigned to the scrap heap!

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So, will Umno part ways with Bersatu? Who would their dance partners be? PH and the DAP? Warisan? It would be an about-turn for all the parties if this should happen. They all have diverse ideologies, so it is difficult to see how they could sit and talk sensibly without coming to blows.

Maybe it can only happen if all the parties sit and discuss what they have in common rather than what divides them. Maybe it is time for them to realise that the kind of politics they have been spewing out no longer appeals to the people.

Malaysian politicians should look at what is happening in the US under Donald Trump and realise that “words matter”. The constant harping on ethno-religious issues should stop, especially during elections.  

There are other more important issues that, we, the people, want the government to solve. So, please, be careful with the choice of words used. Such words can hurt, harm and incite, so all politicians must take heed.  

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

Note: The government has just announced movement restrictions, in varying degrees.

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