IN HIS latest statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the COVID-19 pandemic is worse than the World War II conflict. He said the health threat to the world’s population and the economy can lead to enhanced instability, enhance unrest and enhanced conflict.
The global pandemic sees no end in the short term as it will stay at least for another 18 months. The Inernational Monetary Fund (IMF), meantime has declared that the world has entered global recession.
For Malaysia, the daily life and routine has ended with the new normalcy. We had entered a new way of life which we must adapt quickly. We must give attention to:
Firstly, Malaysia must prepare for a ‘total reset’ to ensure its economy and development are not interrupted. Citing Prof Jomo, we cannot go backtrack to status quo. Our economic thrust used to focus on competition and high income but our priority now is on economic resilience.
We must again explore the traditional economic modernisation and crisis proof growth to sustain the economy. If our economic plan had given emphasis on growth, its time to economic revival and resilience. All these demands innovation, an out-of-the-box mindset and an extraordinary approach.
Secondly, Malaysia must focus on a radical reshuffle to the government’s address. Turning to the digital government is no more an option, let alone allowing our methods crippled during crisis.
Most prevalent is when schools have to be closed and our inability to leap into online mode in a fast manner. In the end, time for education and other related discipline will be wasted.
Thirdly, we must seriously develop comprehension and awareness to take on non-traditional challenges to the national safety. Pandemic, cyber attack, natural disaster and other crisis which are threat to human being is the real threat.
In fact, Malaysia will be more vulnerable to these non-traditional threats as compared to war and interstate conflict. However, a large amount of resources was allocated to the defense sector than traditional safety that investment and our awareness to prepare for such disasters is neglected.
The government can no longer take an ad hoc approach. We must be ahead of time. National centre such as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the US is now a national requirement and getting top priority.
Fourthly, attending to such crises demand a close international cooperation. COVID-19 taught us how it can be contained with strong international cooperation. Hence, Malaysia must be seen as taking active measures during a crisis like this.
Finally, despite the constraints, the human factor plays extraordinary role in managing a crisis. They will never succumb to any pressure. The will to sacrifice, providing treatment, contain the disease and their fighting spirit can always overcome the odds.
Malaysia must trust them. It is the right time to recognise and appreciate their role in containing the pandemic. God willing, their sacrifices will be rewarded and provides us with the air to breath again.
Dato’ Seri Utama Haji Mohamad bin Haji Hasan
Timbalan Presiden UMNO