Govt urged to provide clear emergency action plan

Govt should start discussion on the plan and appoint members of the bipartisan committee to advise the King

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government has not shown what it plans to do with its emergency powers to fight the coronavirus pandemic, said critics.

The government — which asked and received consent from the King to declare a state of emergency effective until Aug 1 to fight Covid 19 — has not reached out to the health sector to inform what they need to do.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the government should start the discussion on the plan and appoint members of the bipartisan committee to advise the King during the emergency period.

“The plan should include a clear strategy on prevention, such as screening and isolation; community empowerment and mobilisation; and role of private medical facilities,” Dr Zainal Ariffin told The Malaysian Reserve.

He also said the government should provide a clear timeline, use digital technology and share data for analyses.

In a statement, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said more permanent posts for medical officers need to be created immediately to ensure adequate manpower to continue the fight against Covid-19 and future pandemics on top of routine healthcare services.

He said the remainder of medical officers not given permanent posts must be offered an extended contract of at least 10 years to allow them to specialise and progress further.

“MMA hopes the government will soon provide more details on the additional 3,500 healthcare personnel under the Permai (Malaysian Economic and Rakyat’s Protection Assistance Package) stimulus package, referring to permanent positions or contract positions, and if there are any positions being created for doctors,” Dr Subramaniam said yesterday.

He said mental and psychological support for the country’s medical personnel is also important to ensure that they can continue to serve the people at their best.

He further said Covid-19 allowances must be extended to all staff exposed to the clinical environment, including to often-forgotten “backliners”.

“Some of the healthcare staff are also on a seven-day working schedule due to the pandemic. If conditions permit, each staff member should be given their due rest each week to prevent fatigue and burnout,” he added.

In terms of financial remuneration, Dr Subramaniam said the MMA takes the stand that its doctors’ critical allowance should be continued indefinitely without further review.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government must provide clear direction and policy on how the country will be managed when all parliamentary and state assemblies are suspended.

Speaking to reporters, Anwar said the government needs to show its emergency action plan, especially when there is no avenue for check and balance.

“That has been our concern. You announced an emergency with full authority and absolute power bestowed upon you and there are no details given, except the power and some of the provisions mentioned that allow you to conduct the affairs. But no specific policy or programme,” Anwar said at a press conference yesterday.

He said the Opposition is appealing to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to reconsider the emergency decree.

Anwar said Opposition and government MPs have said there were no strong grounds for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to ask for emergency.

He said even under emergency, Parliament should still convene, which is in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

The Port Dickson MP also urged the government to pay more attention to the grouses of the people and take into account their opinion in the planning during the emergency.

Meanwhile, Anwar said the Opposition will give three names of MPs to be a member in the independent committee that is expected to be formed to advise the King.