Dr M asks Putrajaya: Where did RM600b for pandemic go?

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Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Putrajaya to explain why it is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic despite allocating RM600 billion to fight it.

The former prime minister said if RM600 billion is really what the government spent to fight the pandemic, then the public should know where the money went and how it was spent in such a short time.

“Putrajaya claims that it has paid more than RM600 billion in the fight against the pandemic. If so, we should have the capacity to deal with it,” he said in a blog posting today.

“But, obviously, we have not. We must know why. RM600 billion is a lot of money. It is not easy to spend that money in such a short space of time.” 

He also criticised the government’s over-confidence after beating the first few Covid-19 waves last year, especially during the first movement control order.

He said the government became lax with its rules and regulations to remain popular in the eyes of the public, citing the recent green light given for Ramadan bazaars to operate.

Dr Mahathir also urged the government to enforce for a total lockdown and bear all costs should it be imposed.

“The necessary lockdown means no income, and for many, no food even. Yet, the lockdown is perhaps the only way to prevent exposure to the virus. And infection may mean death,” he said.

“Whatever may be the immediate cause of the spike, the urgent need is still to reduce the number of new cases. We are definitely going to be short of (hospital) beds, apparatus and even oxygen if the numbers double.”

The 95-year-old said it will be timely to reintroduce a month-long lockdown with stricter measures.

“We need to confine people to their homes. There should not be any excuse for crowds to form. Staying apart must be applied even among the frontliners,” he said.

“Confining people at home means they will have no money and no food.”

With this, Dr Mahathir said, Putrajaya must accept the responsibility of keeping people alive.

“For food, there should be public kitchens where meals are prepared, packaged and delivered to the homes,” he suggested.

“It is important that the quarantined people should not come out to collect the food at the kitchens. This will cause crowds to gather. Couriers should be recruited to deliver the food to the houses. There should be no contact between the delivery boys and the householders.”

Furthermore, Dr Mahathir said, hotel kitchens should be utilised to prepare and package the food.

“The home quarantine should be for at least one month. The police and military should be very strict in ensuring the people don’t come out to shop or do anything,” he said.

He stressed that the cost will be high, but it is imperative that the government enforce a total lockdown.

“The cost must be borne by the government. It will be costly, but the government must do it,” he said.

The government has imposed MCO 3.0 nationwide from May 12 to June 7 to curb the spread of the virus. However, economic sectors are allowed to operate with tighter standard operating procedure. Social activities and restaurant dine-ins are prohibited.

Despite this, daily Covid-19 cases have been spiking, with the country registering a record 6,075 infections yesterday and 47 deaths the day before.

The nation is fast approaching the 500,000-caseload mark, with the number now standing at 485,496. Death toll is at 2,040.

Dr Mahathir also called for the vaccination programme to be sped up and for the people not to be picky about the types of vaccines.

“We should accept whatever vaccine that has been used in other countries extensively. A special effort must be made to get people living in rural areas to be vaccinated,” he said.

“In many countries, even the first jab can help reduce the number of new cases. But even those who have been vaccinated need to be tested again and again.

“We have to be serious about the fight against Covid-19. If not, we are going to see a lot of people, who could have been saved, die.” – TMI