KOTA KINABALU: The Government must come up with better polices in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and must seek balance between preserving lives and ensuring the sustainability of people’s livelihoods.
“The pandemic has affected everyone in many ways. Lives have been lost. Families have grieved over the loss of loved ones. To make matters worse, the prolonging of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and its variations have caused people to lose businesses and jobs leading to disastrous consequences,” said former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
He added that while it is important for the government to ensure minimal loss of life, he questioned the current strategies in combating the pandemic as well as to ensure people’s livelihoods are not further affected.
“It is not just the B40 who are affected by this pandemic. Soon, the M40 will also suffer. When one group loses their income, they lose their purchasing power.
“As such, they can no longer buy goods and those selling would also lose income. Businesses will be affected Those employed by business will lose their jobs. However keeping the rakyat under continuous lockdown is not the answer.
“It is a vicious cycle,” Anifah said, adding that the government cannot be giving cash handouts or food aid indefinitely as the government too has a limited budget which is also affected by the pandemic. The Government must come up with a better solution.
Anifah, who was also former Kimanis MP also said that while he understood that certain business sectors must be allowed to operate during the MCO period such as factory operators, better enforcement must be done in order to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases which occur there.
“We know that factory workers are greatly exposed to the virus. What is the government doing to ensure that the workers are properly tested and monitored?
“In Selangor, most of the COVID-19 clusters are from factories. What is going on? Where are the authorities? People perceive that some form of corruption exists in the system which allows them to operate and ultimately leading to the rising number of cases in the country,” he added.
He also said that the MySejahtera application should work properly as a track and trace application to detect possible case contacts so isolation can be done efficiently especially in dense areas.
“What is the use of MySejahtera if it is not used properly? At the end of the day, it becomes another useless application on the phone which is only used for checking into a place,” he said further.
Anifah also took the government to task in addressing the shortage of employed doctors in the country to tackle the pandemic.
“If we really have a shortage of medical staff, we should use diplomacy to get assistance from countries which have successfully dealt with the pandemic,” he added.
He also said that in order to achieve herd immunity, while it is important to vaccinate the majority of the population, the government should also focus on the logistics to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated.
“While it is easy for urban folks to drive into vaccination centres to be vaccinated, the same cannot be said for rural folks.
“I know that there are efforts done such as outreach programs to bring vaccines to the rural folks. This should be done continually and government agencies should work together in ensuring that the rural folks will also be vaccinated,” he said, adding that government agencies should utilise all their assets and personal in helping as many rural folk as possible in getting their vaccines.
*Anifah also took politicians from both sides of the political divide to task to stop their political squabble and focus on helping the citizens.*
*“Regardless of political belief, all politicians especially elected ones and those who hold office should focus on the Rakyat. If the Government cannot handle the situation then it must consider other options,” he said, adding that currently the people are angry towards politicians who are seen as being accorded different standards when it comes to adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).*
*He added that those politicians / leaders who travel for holidays because they can are sending out negative messages to the people who are suffering the consequences of this pandemic.*
*“Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should (travel). Have some empathy on the people who are losing lives, jobs and even food on the table.*
*“When the people are suffering, is it right for you to flaunt your wealth and happiness,” he added.*