COVID-19 Op-ed

Assessing Malaysian Government’s Concern Towards Citizens’ Health and Financial Aid in Light of COVID-19

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Murugan Rajoo, PhDR &
D Specialist (Mathematics Education)
SEAMEO
RECSAM
Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah11700
Gelugor, PENANG

The straining of the health system in more than 203 countries,
areas, and territories is due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of
10 April, the coronavirus disease, also known as the COVID-19 outbreak
resulted in 1,632,577 confirmed cases, of which are 97,583 confirmed deaths
are recorded. Malaysia registered its first case of COVID-19 on 25 January
20201. This paper looks into the COVID-19 mitigation
policy in Malaysia.At the national level, the Government has started a
program to increase public awareness through various channels such as news
and social media on ways that we should practice to prevent COVID-19.
However, the number of infected cases keeps increasing. Such a spike in cases
sent the Government a strong warning, which prompted leaders to look into the
matter seriously. On 16 March, the Malaysian Government announced the
Movement Control Order (MCO) for two weeks from 18 to 31 March to reduce the
increasing positive cases through social distancing and a few other methods
such as closing down the schools and universities. Only essential services
are allowed to operate2. Looking into the forecasting
growth of positive cases COVID-19, at 1,796 on 25 March. The Malaysian
Government extended the MCO for another two weeks until 14 April. The
Malaysian Government initiated several measures such as by designating hotels
as quarantine centers, detecting the infected people through testing, and
conducting contact tracing to the people who are involved in public
gatherings or close contacts. Besides, the Government also advises the people
to self-quarantine at home, especially those who returned from overseas.During
the MCO period, the Government also bans all gathering events and school
activities. By practicing social distancing, the spread of the virus is
believed to be able to reduce, however it is still premature to claim it as a
success as it needs to be coupled with other factors. On 27 March, Prime
Minister Muhyiddin Yassin launched an Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) known
as a care package worth RM250 billion. Of these, RM128 billion is allocated
to protect the welfare of the people, RM100 billion to support businesses,
including small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The entrepreneurs are also
given opportunity to apply for loans starting from April to December this
year. At the same time, the Central Bank of Malaysia also requested all banks
to give moratorium for all customers. The policy is expected to benefit the
various groups, including taxi drivers, farmers, fishermen and others. The
Government allocated special funds between RM100,000 and RM200,000 to
farmers’ and fishermen’ organizations, these two main groups are believed to
be capable of establishing short-term agro-food projects within three to six
months to ensure adequate food supply for everyone.5
For the household with an income of RM4,000 and below, the Malaysian
Government allocated RM1,600 to almost four million
households6.According to the World Health Organization
(WHO), all countries should recognize essential programs that should be
prioritized in their efforts to preserve the quality of service provision and
make rational shifts to ensure that increasingly scarce resources deliver
optimal value to the community7. They are also
required to follow the rules, especially in hygiene practices, and to provide
sufficient healthcare supplies for the people. This requires careful
preparation and well-coordinated intervention between the governments and
healthcare facilities and management. Apart from that, accurate information
is crucial in this pandemic to avoid any form of panic among the people. This
is particularly important to ensure the continued balanced state of people’s
emotions in which will help the Government to continue to implement the
programs more effectively.In conclusion, we need to continue to be
cooperative with each other to overcome this pandemic together. The readiness
of each individual to perceive issues positively, acceptance of justified
action, cooperation, and mutual effort is crucial for us to overcome COVID-19
successfully.References

  1. “Eight Chinese tourists show no coronavirus symptoms in Johor
    Bharu.” The Malay Mail. Bernama. 24 January 2020. Archived from the
    original on 17 February 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020. Retrieved fromhttps://web.archive.org/web/20200217122850/https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/01/24/johor-baru-eight-chinese-tourists-show-no-coronavirus-symptoms/1831224
  2. Bunyan, John (16 March 2020). “PM: Malaysia under movement
    control order from Wed until 31 March, all shops closed except for essential
    services”. The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 16 March 2020.
    Retrieved 16 March 2020. Retrieved from https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/03/16/pm-malaysia-in-lockdown-from-wed-until-march-31-all-shops-closed-except-for/1847204
  3. Sukumaran, Tashny (16 March 2020). “Coronavirus: Malaysia in
    partial lockdown from 18 March to limit outbreak”. South China Morning
    Post. Archived from the original on 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
    Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3075456/coronavirus-malaysias-prime-minister-muhyiddin-yassin
  4. One-off aid a boon for e-hailing drivers. The Star. 28 March 2020.
    Retrieved fromhttps://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/28/one-off-aid-a-boon-for-e-hailing-drivers
  5. Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) Speech Text
    Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia. 27 March 2020. Retrieved fromhttps://www.pmo.gov.my/2020/03/speech-text-prihatin-esp/.
  6. “Stimulus package: RM1,600 to almost 4 million households
    with income of RM4,000 and below”. The sun daily. 9 April 2020.
    Retrieved fromhttps://www.thesundaily.my/local/updated-stimulus-package-rm1600-to-almost-4-million-household-with-income-of-rm4000-and-below-BN2186829
  7. World Health Organization. (2020, 1ST APRIL). Coronavirus disease
    (COVID-19) Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200401-sitrep-72-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=3dd8971b_2

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