End Emergency to pare unemployment

Policy implementations during Emergency have proven to be ineffective and contradictory to curbing Covid-19, says economist

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

THE state of Emergency must be put to a stop immediately in order to revive the confidence of the market and investors to address increasing unemployment and the country’s high debt.

Despite the current unemployment rate at 5%, economist Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said if the unemployment among 24-years-old and below gets three times higher and the number of underemployed individuals to be included, he said the unemployment rate can reach almost 20% and will drag the economy further.

“Why is confidence very important? The federal government’s debt and liabilities have rose to RM1 trillion, while the expenses for Budget 2021 are at RM30 billion. All of these require a fund from the market.

“If there is no confidence, investors would not invest and investment will worsen. Confidence is dependent on a country’s administration, politics, policy, law and regulatory system,” he said in a virtual press conference by the Committee to End Emergency chaired by Shah Alam lawmaker Khalid Samad (picture).

Nungsari stressed that policy implementations during Emergency have proven to be ineffective and contradictory to the objective to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“I hope we can return to a fully constitutional system of administration and withdraw this Emergency so that Parliament can sit,” he added.

Malaysia has been recording more than 2,000 new Covid-19 cases daily since last Thursday, after a month of recording below 2,000 cases.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 2,078 cases, with Sarawak reporting the highest number of cases at 589.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said the Emergency, declared last January, is only meant to curb the pandemic outbreaks.

DM Analytics Sdn Bhd MD Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid said if the government is efficient, there is no need for an emergency and to suspend the Parliament in the first place.

“When there is no checks and balances, the country’s wealth can be plundered by a handful of elites and in the long term, investments for human capital and education, and investors’ confidence will not happen.

“Therefore, an autocratic government is not good for current and future economic development.”

He said if fourth wave of Covid-19 really happens, economic activity will be lesser.

“But we have to remember that, even though there will be economic activity, it doesn’t guarantee a job opportunity and poverty rate to drop.

“Between 2016 and 2019, there was no Covid-19. The economy expanded, but the poverty and unemployment rates increased,” he said.

Meanwhile, another leading economist Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram questioned the need to have an emergency, alleging that there is a hidden motive behind it.

According to Jomo, throughout history, Malaysia had been under the state of Emergency for only five times, and the Parliament was not suspended except during the fourth Emergency in 1969 and 1978.

“The state of Emergency and Movement Control Order (MCO) are not necessary to curb the Covid-19 pandemic and it has, in fact, worsened the economy further.

“Nations like Japan, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia have never implemented MCO or things like that to control the spread of virus.”

Jomo urged Malaysia to learn from East Asian countries that have better methods than the West in terms of managing the pandemic.

“For example, in Daegu, South Korea, where the pandemic started in the country, they never called an MCO. Instead, they conducted infection tracing aggressively, making it the most important measure.

“We should be looking at our neighbours, some poorer nations than us, especially Vietnam and Laos that have managed to handle the pandemic better than us,” he added.

The Emergency Ordinance was implemented on Jan 14, 2021, and will last until August 1, 2021.

Shah Alam MP Khalid said the Committee to End Emergency went to Istana Negara on March 26, but there has been no official response so far. He said he will go to the palace again today on this matter.