AUGUST 31st signifies our country celebrating its 63rd Independence anniversary. It has been 63 years since this country was liberated from colonialism, and only a few of those who had fought for it are still alive.
Certainly the celebration of Independence (or Merdeka) this time is very different from previous years due to the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the whole world. The new normal Independence Day celebrations this year not only rakes the struggle of our national heroes but to instill the spirit of the people as national heroes along with frontliners in containing Covid-19.
The war against the pandemic is our new war, not only for Malaysians but each and every citizen of the globe. In fact, I think the average citizen does not feel the excitement to celebrating the Merdeka Month like before. Not because of forgetting history but because of the ‘KitaJagaKita’.
Various initiatives were introduced such as PRIHATIN, GENERATOR, moratorium, electricity subsidy and ePenjana RM50 that have eased the financial burden of the people. These initiatives succeed in managing their stressful living. The level of obedient also remains high despite some restrictions.
Developing and other developed countries face various obstacles to enforcing movement restrictions because there were protests and demonstrations among those who felt the pinch of financial burden.
However, the government needs to continue finding the best formula and study new initiatives to revive the economy at an immediate rate. This is important to restore the confidence of the business community, capitalists and the people. The government is certainly aware of the post-moratorium effects.
An estimated 7.7 million people in this country use the moratorium facilities introduced by the Government that will expire this September. The post-moratorium will see borrowers face a shortage of cash liquidity which in turn will affect the economic recovery.
The multiplier effect will be more dramatic as the B40 group increases, employment opportunities are limited and economic growth is expected to decline to below zero levels.
I recommend that the government present the ‘New Offer’ or ‘New Deal’ as the People and Stimulant Caring Package so that a more comprehensive direction and plan including austerity measures for a period of 2 to 3 years is introduced.
As there are no signs of the Covid-19 epidemic coming to an end in 2 to 3 years, a careful, creative and innovative planning should be done more aggressively by optimizing all experts, companies based in domestic research as well as cooperation with countries- foreign countries. Governments need to be disciplined to minimize costs and produce the best impact through the sharing of these resources.
In addition, any economic policies and others must also have the nature of FAIRNESS to all parties, whether to the community of workers, employers, business owners, corporate bodies to rural farmers. Equitable economic distribution or ‘Equitable Wealth Distribution’ is very important to ensure that no party feels marginalized in this country.
The government also needs to revise existing policies so as not to squeeze small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to rebuild businesses amid the domino effects of the global economic downturn.
All efforts and plans made to ensure the future of the people and the country can only be achieved if the people themselves work in that direction. Allah SWT says “Indeed, Allah will not change the fate of the people unless they change whatever is in them” (surah Ar-Rad: 11).
Borrowing the words of my friend, Dato Seri Tuan Guru Haji Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS President in his Facebook posting recently, “Archery teaches us to focus on the target we want to achieve and not be easily distracted by external elements” . Therefore, Barisan Nasional must continue to focus on defending the fate of the people and helping the government restores the economy immediately.
Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi