Malaysians have been forced to undergo some form of lockdown since early May, and in the beginning of June a total lockdown was imposed by the government in an attempt to curb the number of positive cases which were around 5k daily cases at that time. Now it’s the middle of July and it seems like the numbers are only going up, reaching a whooping 11,079 cases on July 13, the highest the country has ever recorded despite being on a ‘TOTAL LOCKDOWN‘.
It seems like Malaysia has reached its breaking point, people are starving on the streets, the hospitals have exceeded capacity and businesses will likely be shut for a longer period (unless you’re a factory). Tough choices lay ahead for the current government who managed to bring our once great country down to its knees.
The most important choice that needs to be made by the government is whether to prioritize economy or to prioritize health which they had failed to do in the first place. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, an apt idiom to sum up the actions of the current government thus far. They announced a full lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus ensuring its priority for healthcare yet they still allowed factories to open in an attempt to also prioritize the economic stability of the country, so called killing two birds with one stone. This lockdown essentially failed due to the government’s inability to make the hard choice of prioritizing the health of their citizens over the economy of the country in an attempt to win two battles at once (in which they lost both).
Due to this failure, the time has come once again for them to choose between the two. Attempting to prioritize both will likely lead them down the same road again, after all insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The choice has to be made now before things escalate even further, similar to how the choice should have been made one month ago. If the government had enforced a proper lockdown earlier, the number of positive cases could have been managed and economic recovery measures could have been initiated by now. However, as they lacked the courage to properly shut down factories which significantly contributed to the current state of affairs, the choice has certainly become a more difficult one now with the citizens ultimately having to pay the price for it.
The first option they can choose is to once again extend the lockdown albeit with more restrictions this time. Factories must be closed for at least 4 weeks for any hopes of reducing the numbers, where businesses that have suffered for the last one month will continue to suffer even more with any further lockdowns. Individuals who rely on daily income to survive will be forced to starve even longer without any chance to earn any money. This will all be done in hopes that the cases will be brought down and hospitals will be able to gain back its optimum operating levels. It’s a no brainer that this will cause a serious impact on the economy as the country will continuously lose its income and more business will reach their critical points leading to massive economic hardships by the citizens. This is the price the country must pay in order to bring its healthcare back on track at this point in time.
The other option is to prioritize economic stability. There have already been multiple letters issued by international chamber groups, each expressing their worries on the state of affairs within the country which will definitely lead to foreign investors finding alternatives for their businesses in another country with better Covid management. To prevent this, the government can allow businesses to return to its original operating capacity where it certainly will improve the current economic hardships and individuals will be able to gain back their lost income and finally be able to put food on their tables. The risk however will still exist, hospitals will continuously suffer from exceeding their capacity to cater for all patients and outbreaks in the workplace will continuously happen, only this time the risk will be borne by businesses and individuals who accept their fate in returning to their normal working routines. Only those who have been given 2 doses of the vaccine will be least affected by this choice despite still being able to transmit the virus to those who have yet to be vaccinated.
The choice is going to be a difficult one with loss of life being inevitable regardless of the decision taken. Even if healthcare is prioritized, citizens are starving and depressed where any extension of lockdown will only make it worse for them. On the other hand by prioritizing the economy, the government will find the blood of citizens who are taken by the virus on their hands with no reduction in cases for a long time.
The government has to make a quick decision before we pass the point of no return with this virus. Let’s hope they make the most appropriate decision before the virus decides for all of us.
Kage is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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