By LIM KIT SIANG
COMMENT: The federal government’s warning last night of legal action against nine states for refusal to comply with the conditional movement control order (CMCO) is proof of absence of “whole-of-government” approach and a sad example of a very shambolic exit plan where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
The legal threat by Senior Minister and Minister for International Trade and Industry, Azmin Ali, was adding insult to injury when he should have convened a meeting of Chief Ministers and Menteri-Menteri Besar to reach a consensus on the phased restart of the economy through the conditional movement control order.
Clearly, Azmin is not conversant with the Malaysian Constitution. He should pay heed to the statement by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Federal/State Relations, Hassan Abdul Karim, who pointed out that Federal and state governments are jointly given power on health matters under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
Matters of public health and prevention of diseases appear under the concurrent list, meaning both federal and state governments jointly have jurisdiction on these matters.
Neither Azmin nor the federal government can rely solely on citing the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) to impose their will upon state governments to follow the federal government’s decision to reopen the economy on May 4.
Six states, Kedah, Sabah, Pahang, Penang, Kelantan and Sarawak have decided not to follow the Federal Government move while three states, Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan said they would limit the number of businesses allowed to resume operations.
Although Azmin referred to the National Security Council (NSC) meeting of April 28, which was attended by chief ministers and menteri-menteri besar, no consensus was reached at that meeting as to how the various economic sectors would be re-opened under a CMCO to provide for a phased lifting and soft-landing exit plan.
A second meeting of Chief Ministers and Menteri-Menteri Besar should have been held before the lifting of the MCO and the imposition of the CMCO on May 4.
This is what Azmin should do now instead of issuing a dubious legal threat.
The invisible war against Covid-19 is going to be a long and protracted one – to ensure that in the next one to two years, there will be no resurgence of the outbreak and to ensure that the economy can bounce back in the quickest possible time.
There should be an end to the ham-fisted handling of the invisible war like the fiascos over 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.
It is urgent and imperative that the government adopt an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach with Parliament playing its oversight and scrutiny role to ensure the nation’s success in the invisible war against Covid-19 pandemic.
So far the government has acted as if it knows best, when clearly it does not and furthermore, “the government knows best” is an attitude which belongs to a bygone era.
More than 40,000 Malaysians have signed the online petition for Parliament to meet for at least two weeks, and not just for one day, on May 18. Let more Malaysians sign the online petition to convey their views to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin.