Syed Akbar Ali Open Letter To Muhyiddin Yassin On Handling Malaysia Covid19 Crisis - The Coverage
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Syed Akbar Ali Open Letter To Muhyiddin Yassin On Handling Malaysia Covid19 Crisis

Salam Tan Sri Muhyiddin ,

I would like to share some thoughts on handling the Corona Virus. I hope you and your government will read this.

Extend lockdown now

The two weeks MCO ending on 31st March 2020 (nine days from now) is not enough. By Friday there were 1030 cases in Malaysia. This number may increase soon.

Australia has initiated a 6 month no entry policy – beginning a few days ago. India has gone into lockdown in some major states. The British are discussing a 12 month period of lockdown though that seems unlikely.

In any event our two week restriction is not enough. Rather than wait for the last minute, please make the announcement to extend the MCO so that the country can make the relevant adjustments to its schedules. People are suffering and lets not make things more difficult by making last minute announcements.

a. Segregation of old people vs young people.

Due to higher mortality among the older people, other suggestions are that we segregate the old from the young. Those 60 years and above should stay home. Those below 60 should be allowed to work – but under regulations and restrictions. This is easier said than done considering old people may live with their children, including in crowded apartments – which will defeat the purpose of the segregation.

However the suggestion is sound because the old are at greater risk. Understanding this may help in formulating some other action plan.

b. Shut down public transport.

The Chinese also shutdown their public transportation system – no buses, trains, LRT, MRT, airplane flights, ships, ferries etc. A complete lockdown. Our public transportation system is still running. There are consequences to this.

Bring in a full team of Corona advisers from China

Dear Tan Sri, this Corona virus is new to everyone. The Italians have bungled the handling of this crisis. Yesterday over 700 Italians died. The day before it was over 600 Italian deaths.

Here the Malaysian Cabinet is no exception. The incompetence of the Cabinet Ministers, including those in the previous Cabinet, is becoming the stuff of legend. The comment by the Minister of Health that drinking warm water avoids corona infection had to be refuted by his own Ministry. The previous ‘pagi pagi baca Quran’ Health Minister was no less incompetent.

The Chinese, the South Koreans and Singapore seem to have done much better although this is largely differentiated by the political systems and the “social capital” inherent in these countries.

Let us not waste time. Lives are at stake. We really need the doctors, infectious disease, civil defense, public security, public hygiene, food security, supply chain experts etc from China to advise us.

Wuhan has a population of 11 million, already 1/3 of our population.
Hebei province has a population of 66 million – twice our population.
China has a total population of 1.5 billion.
The Chinese have successfully treated such large populations.

Malaysia has only 32 million people.
The Chinese expertise should be able to help us plenty.
So please get the maximum amount of help from the Chinese.
This is not the time for pride or jingoism.
Peoples’ lives are at stake. This is a time for patriotism.

This world situation is unprecedented.
Please do not impose on your Cabinet to solve this problem.
Expecting the Cabinet to come up with all the solutions will be very irresponsible.
The Cabinet does not have the experience or the competence.
The Chinese from China have successfully handled this situation.

Where are the Test kits ? Face masks?

There is talk that Covid19 Test Kits are being deliberately withheld from the market by unscrupulous ‘orang tengah’ or corporate middlemen.

To push up their prices – now in excess of RM500 per test kit?
We need some clarity on this matter.
Now is not the time for greedy Datos and political cronies to make easy money.
Can we have a clear and true statement from your government why there are no or insufficient test kits in the market?

At times like this please remove ALL restrictions (like APs, licenses, import permits, import duties, useless red tape etc) that may hinder or prevent anyone from bringing in test kits that have already been accepted to world standards.

And how come there is no information on the number of people being tested or screened for Covid19?

“Malaysian hospitals are not documenting all Corona cases because we are not screening the people. Especially the health care personnel who are at super risk of contracting and spreading Covid 19. Medical staffs are not being screened and tested asap. They are just waiting until the symptoms show up.”

The same argument applies for face masks. It has been mengtioned that China has sent 500,000 face masks. Where are they? How come face mask prices have shot up to RM2.00 from just 80 sen?

Please consider price controlling face masks at 50 sen (meaning those blue face masks which everyone is already wearing.)

As I said now is not the time for greedy Datos and cronies to make easy money.

Medication – China, France and now the US have used novel treatments

Chloroquine and high dosages of Vitamin Cs have been prescribed and have been successful.

What is the status in Malaysia? The government should share with the public what are the treatment methods being used in our hospitals. Normally this will not be necessary but this situation is a pandemic. This is a totally unprecedented situation. This is like during war time. The public needs to know the success rate of curing Covid19 cases and the medications / methods used.

Are we in close contact with the Chinese, Koreans, Americans, Europeans, Israelis, Indians on the status or results of the new methods and medications that they have developed?
We have to talk to all countries in the world. No country will deny cooperation and helping another country during this emergency.

Food security / Labour restrictions and the economy

a. Food security

India has gone into a partial lockdown a few days ago. We buy a huge amount of onions, potatos, pulses (kacang like chick peas, kacang kuda, kacang dhall) from India.

How will this Covid19 pandemic affect our food imports and food security?

If there are threats to our food supply, how do we mitigate this?

There are suggestions that we ban the export of food for the duration of this crisis.
Or at least reduce food exports by say 50%.
This will help avoid any food shortages in the country.

The MCO has stopped non essential businesses from operating. So chicken farmers who produce eggs are complaining that those cardboard egg trays and calcium from limestone quarries are facing shortages. This is because while chicken farms are listed as essential industries the cardboard egg tray making factory and the limestone quarry are not considered essential and have been shut down. Without the cardboard egg trays the chicken farmers cannot sell their eggs. That is why the prices of eggs have also increased by THREE SEN over the past few days. The calcium apparently goes into the chicken feed to help chicken lay eggs.

So the government is not thinking. ALL supporting industries that help food production should be considered essential industries and must not be disturbed or prevented from functioning.

Otherwise the MCO is going to impact the country’s food security.

b. Labour restrictions

The MCO restrictions also say that factories / businesses must cut their manpower by 50%. This has cut production output by 50% also. This will further shrink our productivity, our exports etc and the value of the Ringgit will also decline.

As the crisis worsens Malaysian parents are also telling their sons and daughters to STOP WORKING. So the output from our factories is going to shrink further.

(Readers’ note : All the information in Paragraph 5 here is derived from a friend of mine who runs a multi billion Ringgit business. Ini bukan saya cakap tau).

One simple suggestions is totally remove all restrictions against foreign workers who are already inside the country. There are Banglas, Indons, Indians walking around unemployed. Allow the factories to hire them. We have to think outsyed the box.

If the output in the economy drops, the Ringgit will shrink even more.
Then there will imported inflation. If this persists there may be hyper inflation.

Public hygiene and sanitisation

All corporations that have customer interface must take the responsibility keep their “interface points” constantly sanitised.

Banks must make sure that the ATM machines are constantly wiped down and sanitised. Including the door handles and glass doors.

Petrol stations must constantly wipe down their pumps – after every customer. It is not difficulkt if you employ Banglas. If you employ locals this may not be possible.

Supermarkets must sanitise trolleys, cashier’s stations. shelves, all doors.

There must be SOPs enforced.

To quickly develop a standard SOP please ask the Banks, petrol stations, supermarkets how best to do this. Handle this they must but let them input on how best to handle this.

Source : Syed Akbar Ali

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