Ruler Is Now Taking Action On His Own To Help Control The Pandemic – Has Sultan Johor Lost Faith In Putrajaya’s Covid-19 Competence?

I was pleasantly surprised to read that Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has procured 20,000 doses of vaccine for people in the state. This is, of course, good news for Johoreans as they are getting extra doses and it shows their Ruler cares for them.

But it’s not good news for the federal government.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said the Johor royal family was working on getting more Sinovac and Pfizer vaccines in the near future.

He did not say from where they were sourcing these but you don’t have to look far, if you get my drift.

“We hope the government can help us and distribute more vaccines to the people. It’s time for action” Tunku Ismail said.

It looks like the Johor Ruler is now taking action on his own to help control the pandemic, rather than wait for Putrajaya. It is clear that he is not satisfied with the speed at which Putrajaya is moving.

Remember, he had earlier urged the federal government to send more doses to the state so that more Johoreans could be vaccinated. “I feel the vaccination rate is still too slow and needs to be accelerated urgently. I hope the federal government can also increase vaccine supplies to Johor,” the Ruler had said on June 23.

On July 4, the crown prince, after meeting with Johor mentri besar Hasni Mohammad, said he had “decreed for the vaccination process for Johoreans to be expedited through various initiatives, including for the state government to directly purchase vaccines. With this, I hope we will succeed in overcoming this pandemic”.

Is this a sign that the Johor Ruler has lost confidence in the federal government’s handling of the pandemic?

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, you will recall, is from Johor and served many years as menteri besar. He is currently the MP for Pagoh in Johor.

Interesting, don’t you think?

Durian doings

On July 6, 18 durian farmers who had been remanded for two days in Raub, Pahang, were released on police bail. They are being investigated for allegedly trespassing on land that they had been cultivating for decades. They were stopped by police and forestry department officials when they tried to harvest their produce.

According to a FMT report, the Pahang government has accused the farmers of illegal farming and wants to evict them as the state has leased the land to a durian cultivation firm.

However, the farmers say they have a right to enter the land as the Court of Appeal had granted them a stay against their eviction in January. The court ruled that the authorities should not evict or prevent the farmers from entering their orchards.

Yesterday, Pahang menteri besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail claimed the enforcement operation against illegal plantations, including Musang King orchards at the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve, Raub, were being carried out in accordance with the law.

He said the operation – involving an area of 101.17 hectares in the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve, which started on Saturday and is expected to be completed on Aug 2 – did not involve the orchard areas which were the subject of the Court of Appeal case. The operation, according to a report quoting the forestry department, is aimed at destroying all the durian trees that had been illegally planted.

I don’t wish to go into the legality of the issue as I don’t have all the facts. But this much I know: people are suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So why the need to act against the farmers at this time?

Why don’t the authorities allow the farmers to harvest the fruits so that they can run their lives with the money earned? I don’t know the economic situation of the farmers, but even if they are not short of money, is destroying illegally planted durian trees – and fruits – an essential activity for the state government at this time of the pandemic?

This is no time to be heartless.

Long way to normal

Malaysia, according to The Economist, is the worst in a global return to normalcy index. I didn’t expect Malaysia to do too well in any such ranking but to end up at the bottom of the pile is shocking.

The Economist’s global normalcy index covers 50 of the world’s largest economies, measuring behavioral changes forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, including in areas such as employment, transport, travel, entertainment and footfalls in shops.

Malaysia scored 27.3 on the index, 16 points fewer than Taiwan which sits one rank ahead. Hong Kong, at 96.3, tops the rankings, followed by New Zealand (87.8). In Southeast Asia, Indonesia leads in 40th place at 58.3, followed by Thailand (57.8), while Singapore and the Philippines both scored 55.5.

The Economist says the world has travelled roughly half of the way back to pre-pandemic levels of living, adding that activity is not back to normal in any of the countries tracked.

“Hong Kong and New Zealand — two places that have implemented effective measures against the coronavirus and suffered relatively few deaths — are currently at the top of our table.”

“Malaysia, which is suffering from a deadly wave of infections caused by the more transmissible Delta variant, sits at the bottom,” the report states.

As a Malaysian, I feel ashamed. I also fear what the future will hold. I wonder if the prime minister and his Cabinet feel ashamed too. Will this spur the Cabinet to review its actions and proceed with increased vigour in tackling the pandemic and reviving the economy?

Let’s hope so.

Source : FMT

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