Political instability may affect effective, well-coordinated Covid response

Key industrial hubs such as the Klang Valley and Selangor are still unable to flatten the curve

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by TMR FILE

THE current political instability may affect the government’s ability to implement an effective, well-coordinated plan to manage Covid-19 situation in Malaysia.

Sunway University economist Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that despite the political uncertainties, the dispensation of government financial aids and Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and vaccination activities are relatively unaffected.

“This is because the daily administrative activities are discharged by the civil service according to their respective functions, responsibilities and approved budget allocations.

“Nevertheless, the continuing political uncertainties could further undermine the government’s ability to implement a well-coordinated, carefully planned and effective response to the twin public health and economic crisis facing the country,” he said.

While some states have transitioned to Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan, where more sectors and businesses are allowed to operate after more than a month of shutdown, key industrial hubs such as the Klang Valley and Selangor are unable to flatten the curve.

Yeah noted that political instability is adding to public exasperation over the stubbornly high daily infection cases and mounting economic losses due to the second nation-wide lockdown.

Economist Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi (picture) also said the country’s political development does not change anything in terms of strategy or competency to manage the pandemic more effectively.

However, Nungsari highlighted that the government’s strategy has been unchanging, ineffective and somewhat incompetent.

“The longer it drags on, the worse it gets for millions who are affected as the fiscal injection is small. The approach to managing both the pandemic and its human consequences have been the same since March last year,” Nungsari said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia political scientist Prof Dr Jayum Jawan said the effort to address the pandemic and the crippling of the economy and lives should not be confused and conflated with one another.

“The government at both federal and state levels is putting measures in a concerted effort to manage the pandemic. Thereby, it is hoped that this will succeed in bringing down cases through vaccinations that have seen effort being accelerated and would soon allow the opening of the economy,” he said.

Commenting further on politics, he said the contestation for political power will continue to characterise Malaysia’s politics for some time to come.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, this power contestation will continue. This is a new political culture not experienced in Malaysia since the country’s founding days. So, the people will have to get used to it until the ‘dust’ is settled.

“Malaysia is used to being governed by a strong majority, and in quite a number of instances including a two-thirds majority and even a landslide support to a coalition of ruling parties. So, when the 2018 general election produced no clear majority to any group or political party, the situation becomes vulnerable and the jockeying for power becomes highly tense,” he said.

He added that this volatile period is also aggravated by the fact that some politicians are not ashamed to “jump ship”, and ruling parties or coalitions are also known in the past to have enticed members of legislature from other parties in order to secure a comfortable legislative support.