Open letter to PM: What is the cost of a Malaysian life?

Open letter to PM: What is the cost of a Malaysian life?

Dear YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,

I hope this letter reaches you before you meet with your fellow Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers as well as Menteri Besars at the next National Security Council meeting.

I am sure you will be deciding on what is best for all Malaysians. I am sure there will be some among the leadership who will be talking about the need to balance between the benefits of protecting Malaysians from Covid-19 and the costs of those protections to “the economy”.

Should we go into a total lock-down or keep the economy open? Should we worry about the elderly who might get sick and die or the young people who might lose their jobs?
How do we choose between the economy and the life of the people?

The fact of the matter is in these times of crisis people tend to end up with politicians who look to the next elections and not statesmen who look to the future. Short-term gain always seem to trump long term survival.

There are among your cabinet who seem to exploit the language of economics in making a case that is counter to the sacredness of each and every life.

Dear Mr Prime Minister, surely you must realise that it is simply impossible to balance the needs of vulnerable humans against the needs of the economy. It is a fact that what affects one person may not necessarily effect another in the same way.

I am well aware that in the last year the pandemic which has ravaged the world has also impacted our economy and caused irreparable damage to the health of the nation in many ways. The government has focused its efforts on healing the nation’s economy as well as ensuring that Malaysians can continue to work and prosper.

Which is why we need now to have a conversation about whether jobs and the economy are more important than other people’s lives. Malaysians as a whole need to know, we need to know what are the calculations you have decided to use as a formula to calculate the value of a Malaysian life. Since there are some who seem to have decided that the economy is more important than the loss of ‘some’ lives.

What are the benefits to the economy of placing more vulnerable people at greater risk. Is an extra million Ringgit to a billionaire ever worth the loss of the only life you, or someone you love, has?

The right to life is the most basic of human rights and an essential foundation for all others. The protection and sanctity of life is a non-negotiable principle because it is the pillar of civilization. In Islam, the sanctity of life is an inherent right for every human being because life is a God-given gift and a manifestation of His divine grace.

The Holy Quran [17:33] states “You shall not kill any person – for God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. … Life in the Quran is attributed tremendous value, in fact the Quran says that ” whoever slays a soul, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men ;”.

My Prime Minister Sir, you are primus inter pares which is Latin for “first among equals”, and yet there is talk of less experienced Ministers making decisions on your behalf. Sir we know you, you are by far the most experienced person in the cabinet now, you have been in a cabinet which has been through many crisis before, both economic and pandemics. We look to you now Sir to do what is right, better read individuals with far more knowledge than me are caling for a short term complete lock down, people who care for their fellow Malaysians and who have little conflict of interest.

There are some who find it easy to talk in abstract terms about “the economy” and ignore the true “costs” to those at the bottom – especially when these people have millions in their bank accounts unspent.

Mr Prime Minister Sir, it is said that if a total closure of the economy were implemented as with MCO 1.0, it would result in the derailment from the economic recovery track and lower the possibility of Malaysia achieving a 6.0-7.5% growth for 2021 as forecast by various quarters, including Bank Negara Malaysia, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Is the statement above then to be your overriding purpose of deciding that the risk to the lifes of Malaysians are worth the risk?

Since MCO 1, we have gone through less stricter MCOs which have prioritised the economy over all else but have not made businesses any healthier but on the other hand we have seen a rise of Covid positive cases and businesses closing down.

I appeal to your good senses Sir, please consider a short term total lock down as a bitter and painful full short term measure for the long term gain. The potential to save one Malaysian life is akin to saving all Malaysian lifes.

We urge you to speed up the vaccination of all Malaysians, if possible allow all states and private healthcare professionals to support the federal government initiatives to vaccinate the public.

This will lead to herd immunity far more effectively than sporadic ineffective partial lock downs and painfully slow roll out of the vaccines.

Please listen to Malaysians who are concerned for nothing but their lives and the lives of their loved ones, please listen to conscientious businessmen who are morally and ethically aware of the need to value human lives above economic concerns, they are unlike those who benefit from this deadly pandemic. Our frontliners more than anyone else look to your leadership to provide them with the breathing space so that they may save more Malaysian lives.

yours sincerely
Ahmad Sabri Yaakob
A Caring Malaysian
Pagoh, Johor.