Kit Siang: Can Muhyiddin appoint a hands-on Health Minister to lead the war against Covid-19 and move Adham Baba to another Ministry?

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We entered the New Year with the Covid-19 pandemic raging its worst stage in Malaysia and the world, registering on the last day of 2020 a record-high daily increase in Malaysia of 2,525 new Covid-19 cases, while the world registers a record-high daily increase of over 740,000 new Covid-19 cases.

The cumulative total of recorded Covid-19 cases in Malaysia and the world are 113,010 cases and 83.8 million cases respectively.

Is there any light at the end of the tunnel with the third Covid-19 vaccine securing approval – after the Chinese authorities have given conditional approval for general public use of a vaccine developed by the state-owned SINOPHARM?

United States President-Elect Joe Biden had warned that its going to take “years, not months” to vaccinate the nation under the Trump vaccination distribution plan, and said he would “move heaven and earth” to ramp up vaccination efforts, with the goal of administering 100 million inoculations within his first 100 days in office.

Singapore has started its roll-out of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine with healthcare workers two days ago to be the first Asian country to begin an inoculation campaign against the coronavirus. Together with vaccines from other pharmaceutical sources, it expects to have enough vaccine doses for all 5.7 million people by the third quarter of 2021.

Malaysia’s first batch of vaccines will arrive only in February or March, and there are no known plans as to when Malaysia will have enough vaccines for the entire population.

The root problem of Malaysia’s war against Covid-19 pandemic is that the grave trust deficit of the Muhyiddin government after a good start at the beginning of the pandemic, caused by double standards by Ministers and VIPs who violated the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) resulting in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic after the Sabah state general election, which has still to be brought under control.

In early December, the United States Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected 2,987 daily new cases on January 1, 2021 and 5,379 infections on March 21, 2021.

The IHME model projected a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia until mid-March 2021, hitting over 5,000 infections daily from February 25, 2021.

We would know in a few hours whether IHME will hit the mark on its projection of daily increase of new Covid-19 infections on January 1, 2021.

Be that as it may, one of Malaysia’s biggest problems is the lack of leadership and discipline among the top hierarchy of the Muhyiddin Cabinet.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

In fact, Malaysia is the only country in the world during the pandemic which had operated without an effective Minister of Health, who had incapacitated himself with a series of fiascos like “warm water cure for Covid-19”, “500 countries” and “15 states in Malaysia” gaffes.

As a result, he is the last person to explain why it has been impossible to install an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the Movement Control Order (MCO) was first imposed on March 18 last year, Malaysia had 790 Covid-19 cases and two fatalities.

Early this morning, when the government extended the regulations underpinning movement control order restrictions until March 31, Malaysia’s cumulative total of Covid-19 cases had increased 143 times to 113,010 infections, with a daily increase by 2,525 cases (more than three times the total cumulative Covid-19 cases when the MCO was first imposed) and 471 Covid-19 fatalities.

Are we heading for stormy waters in the Covid-19 pandemic?

Can the government restore public trust and confidence in the war against Covid-19 pandemic?

An important test is whether the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, can appoint a hands-on Health Minister to spearhead the “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach in the war against Covid-19 pandemic.

If because of its “backdoor” nature and the fragile condition of the Perikatan Nasional government it is not possible to sack Dr Adham Baba from Cabinet, is it possible to have a Cabinet reshuffle to put in place a hands-on Minister of Health to lead the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and move Dr Adham Baba sideways to another Ministry?

Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 1st January 2021.