The world is in peril. Much as all sane, peace-loving people on this planet will not want a third world war to break out, the bloody war in Ukraine is escalating with each passing hour.
While Malaysians turn to fervent prayers for peace, the Malaysian government needs to tell the people its strategies and measures to cope with the dangerous circumstances afflicting the world.
As largely Western-owned media reports update us, we witness battle plans rolled out by Nato in its member nations bordering Russia and US weaponry being despatched to assist the Ukrainians.
This gives us a glimpse of a precarious future, even as Russia maintains that everything is going according to plan.
The Ukraine situation may seem like a distant problem for people in Southeast Asia to lose any sleep over.
Still, we cannot discount the growing and intense presence of another superpower in the South China Sea.
Added to the world situation that eventually will drag many more nations into a potentially explosive existence, with or without choice, the truth is Malaysia is already being hit by breakdowns in the global supply and food chains.
Now we need to ask the government what its contingency measures are to ensure that the people do not suffer excessively under growing inflationary pressure.
Given our mounting debts and foreign investors’ jitters, the government may not even be able to subsidise costs.
The Covid pandemic has resulted in many tightening budgets for many government agencies.
It is worrying that, two weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Malaysian politicians are gung-ho only about which political party will position itself as the dominant force in the run-up to the coming general election.
We witness a slew of cases of corruption, the allegations and unconvincing investigations, and an overdrive in politicking to turn the battered Barisan Nasional into a formidable force in the run-up to the general election. All this is draining the country’s ability to focus on the ‘war situation’ in the world and its impacts.
Our leaders must tell us the strategies in the works and how the government will ensure that the people will not suffer under the weight of collapsing food and supply chains, which have been hit by global fears and made worse by our government’s unpreparedness.
Here are five measures that the government must introduce.
First, hit the button to jump start domestic food supplies to ensure resilience and avoid over-dependency.
Second, roll out a comprehensive, self-sustainable farming plan that will ensure every inch of available land is cultivated. This will help to contain food prices and cushion the people from growing inflation, arising from costlier imported supplies, which will increasingly be in short supply.
Third, put in place emergency incentive and assistance plans to kickstart small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are capable of sustaining the supply-demand curves with 100% locally manufactured goods. We need to inject creativity and get all agencies to work with clockwork precision to empower our SMEs.
Fourth, announce strategies to protect the people from the threat of any collapse or a possible global crash that could freeze internet-related economic activities, including the ordinary people’s banking needs. Consider too our energy needs, given the possibility that fuel prices may not be falling or stalling anytime soon.
Fifth, come up with contingency plans to meet the people’s healthcare and medical needs in the event of shortages of imported medical supplies and medicines.
There are more areas of concern that the government needs to address. It must also reassure the people and keep them adequately informed.
We cannot surrender to a sense of hopelessness with cries of “what can we do” or “we also did not expect that the war situation would drag on for so long”.
There should be no room for excuses, as the role of the government is to mobilise the country’s resources to protect and reassure the people and prepare for times of acute hardships.
Our elected representatives must come together and not be totally preoccupied with seizing or remaining power. They must not obsess over trying to be formidable enough to form a government while neglecting to prepare the country during these dangerous times.
So far, no one in the country is talking about how to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Remember, while we will join the world in prayer, consistent with our respective beliefs, the universal truth is God saves those who save themselves first.