Guan Eng: Suspending Parliament won’t help solve our economic problems in Covid-19 crisis

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The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s suspension of Parliament will not help Malaysians face their Covid-19-linked financial problems, DAP’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today.

As he marked the one year anniversary of the coronavirus in the country, the Bagan MP said that Parliament should be allowed to sit and continue its function to highlight problems faced by Malaysians during the Covid-19 health crisis that has claimed 678 lives so far.

“Instead of suspending Parliament, the PN government should unite the people to fight Covid-19 together. Suspending Parliament has not helped the country address the quintuple crisis of public health, economic, political instability, education and social justice,” he said in a statement.

Lim said the federal government should pour in resources to help Covid-19 frontliners with manpower and equipment and to save jobs and businesses, and that testing, tracing and treatment of all close contacts of Covid-19 patients should be reinstated.

“Sadly, there are double-standards in that the advocates of the Covid-19 SOPs are themselves the ones who breach them,” the former finance minister said, without naming these individuals.

Lim then listed examples of what he said was the government’s failures in crisis management, including the failure to implement the automatic extension of moratorium on bank loans, self-withdrawals from retirement savings’ fund Employees Provident Fund, as well as issues linked to online learning.

“For instance, the tourism industry is on life-support having lost RM100 billion in revenue last year. And yet, there is no sustainable assistance from the government to help them survive.

“What about rental relief or subsidies for small businesses that have no income or revenue during this period?” he said.

He also said that Malaysians are currently paying more for essential goods, citing figures from December 2020.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia’s latest figures released on January 22 showed that the consumer price index (CPI) or inflation had in December 2020 decreased by 1.4 percent when compared against December 2019 and had increased by 0.5 percent when compared against November 2020, while the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages — which contributes to the CPI index — had in December 2020 increased by 1.4 percent when compared against December 2019 and increased by 0.5 percent when compared against November 2020.

“This will cause greater suffering to ordinary Malaysians facing declining revenue or loss of income during this economic recession and yet have to pay higher prices,” he said.

“We can still save both lives and livelihood if we comply with the health protocols and SOPs, focus resources on the front liners, people and small businesses. Suspending Parliament will frustrate highlighting people-centric problems and not facilitate solutions to these national problems,” he concluded.

Under the Emergency declared nationwide from January 11 to August 1, the federal government has via an Emergency Ordinance temporarily suspended all Parliament sittings during the Emergency.

At the same time, all of Malaysia and Sibu — except for Sarawak — are currently under the movement control order until February 4. – MMO