Lim: Political distancing over nation rebuilding?

Lim: Political distancing over nation rebuilding?

A lockdown on oversight and scrutiny roles of Parliament over government actions until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic will mean the death of democracy in Malaysia

Senior Minister Azmin Ali probably thinks he is being clever in tweeting about “political distancing” at a time when country “needs rebuilding”, but his tweet actually betrays him as belonging to Ministers who want a lockdown of Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of government actions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

These are Ministers who want to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a blank cheque to be able to abuse their powers without any restraint and free from any parliamentary oversight and scrutiny.

Unfortunately, Malaysians cannot see anyone in the Cabinet today who could qualify to be Plato’s philosopher-kings, who possess both a love of wisdom as well as intelligence, reliability and a willingness to live a simple life and whose soul are made of gold.

This is why corruption and abuses of power are beginning to rear their ugly heads before the end of the first hundreds days of the Perikatan Nasional government.

There is at present the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation into a RM30 million contract to supply mass testing laboratory systems to the Health Ministry in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic and the double-standards where a single mother was at first jailed but which was reduced to eight days’ jail and RM1,000 fine on appeal for violating the movement control order (MCO), while the daughter of a VIP was merely given a RM800 fine for a similar but graver offence.

Is this why Ministers do not want Parliament to have full session to carry out its parliamentary oversight and scrutiny roles in the first hundred days of the new overnment and the genesis for the ridiculous one-day Parliament on 18th May?

I agree that at a time of unprecedented national crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region or politics should put aside their differences and unite as one people to fight the invisible war against Covid-19, but this cannot be a blank cheque for abuses of power, kleptocracy, rampant corruption, mediocrity or sheer idiocy in government policies.

If there is a lockdown of parliamentary oversight and scrutiny, then the fiascos, farces and blunders of the government in the past 68 days will become a common occurrence, whether the ham-fisted threat to state governments with legal action instead of ensuring a consensus to spearhead an united Federal-State governments in the invisible war against Covid-19, the “warm water cure for Covid-19”, “15 states”, “500 countries”, “Doraemon”, “Menteri”, “Tik Tok” or serious allegations of discrimination of food aid parcels for needy B40 families in Opposition constituencies.

There can be no doubt that a lockdown on oversight and scrutiny roles of Parliament over government actions until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic will mean the death of democracy in Malaysia – for this is going to take up to two years until an effective vaccine against Covid-19 is developed and available widely.

I agree that while we are in the midst of an invisible war against Covid-19, we should put aside our political differences, and we should not pursue questions why Malaysia should face the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia and who must be responsible for the loss of 107 lives as a result of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak which broke loose from the first wave, which had contained the initial Covid-19 outbreak to 22 cases and zero deaths. Now we have 6,428 cases and 107 deaths.

There is no reason why Malaysia should not be better than Thailand on the Covid-19 situation, but as the Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah has admitted, as compared to Thailand which has a bigger population, the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia was the reason why Malaysia is lagging behind Thailand in containing the Covid-19 pandemic.

We should not have to experience the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, but despite that, Malaysia has not fared too badly.

Just look back to March 18, when we imposed the movement control order (MCO).

Seven weeks ago, China was the leading nation with the most number of 80,907 confirmed cases with a total toll of 3,245 deaths.

The ten top countries in the world with the most number of cases were China, Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, United States, France, South Korea, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Today, China, South Korea and Switzerland have been edged out of the list of the top ten countries, having been replaced by Russia, Turkey and Brazil.

The present top ten countries in terms of Covid-19 confirmed cases are:

1. United States – 1,258,051 cases
2. Spain – 253,682 cases
3. Italy – 214,457 cases
4. United Kingdom – 201,101 cases
5. France 174,191 cases
6. Germany – 168,162 cases
7. Russia – 165,929 cases
8. Turkey – 131,744 cases
9. Brazil – 125,218 cases
10. Iran – 101,650 cases

On 18th March, Malaysia represented 0.36 per cent of total global cases, i.e 790 cases in Malaysia as against the global total of 218,910 cases. Today, we represent a smaller percentage of the global total, i.e. 0.16 percent or 6,429 cases in Malaysia as against the global total of 3,812,717 cases.

Similarly, Malaysia represented 0.02 per cent of global toll of Covid-19 deaths on March 18 – two deaths in Malaysia with 8,925 deaths world-wide. Today, Malaysia represents 0.04 per cent of global toll i.e. 107 deaths in Malaysia and 264,128 worldwide.

Malaysia has not done too badly in fighting the invisible war against Covid-19 despite the second wave of the outbreak, and the top priority in the country now is to rally all Malaysians in unity and solidarity to win the war against Covid-19, both to prevent a third wave of the outbreak and to revive in the quickest possible time the Malaysian economy devastated by the pandemic.

But we must not surrender to the siren calls who want the Covid-19 pandemic to lock down all parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of government actions as we must not give a blank cheque to developments that could lead to rampant corruption, revival of kleptocracy, massive violation of human rights and the death of democracy.

Lim Kit Siang is the DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online