Movement Control Gets Out Of Control – After His Own Screw-Up, PM Muhyiddin Warns Of Extended Lockdown.
The backdoor government of Muhyiddin Yassin has screwed up so spectacularly in handling the Coronavirus crisis that the previous legitimately elected Pakatan Harapan (PH) government looks like a gem. The present regime has made so many fatal U-turns that it makes former Prime Minister Mahathir, known for his “U-turn government”, appears like a darling.
Sure, the now-collapsed PH government had made dozens of U-turn. But at least, those U-turn did not carry the risk of exposing people to the possibility of death. From the moment Prime Minister Muhyiddin announced on Monday (March 16) that a 2-week nationwide lockdown was necessary to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, it was doomed to make the situation worse.
The decision was bold and decisive, not that he had any other option. But that’s about it. There was no comprehensive study, let alone a detail and realistic execution plan. The incompetent government was merely fire-fighting. There was almost zero coordination among all the government agencies, police and military simply because nobody seems to know what to do.
Only the prime minister can declare a lockdown or emergency based on the advice of the National Security Council Act 2016 under the provision Act 776. While everyone agreed that the Covid-19 has become a threat to national security, all the 8 geniuses who attended the National Security Council (NSC) meeting appeared to be as clueless as the guy sitting next to them on what to do next.
The 8 members of the NSC comprise Chairperson Muhyiddin, Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, International Trade & Industry Minister Azmin Ali, Chief Secretary Mohd Zuki Ali, Chief of Defense Affendi Buang and Inspector General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador.
After Muhyiddin announced the decision to lock down the country in a special televised broadcast to 33-million Malaysians, it was mission accomplished. The rest of the NSC members continued with their Candy Crush game. Exactly how much could International Trade & Industry Minister Azmin Ali contribute in the NSC meeting is quite a mystery.
Common sense says any health or medical specialist would be able to offer more useful advices to the council than a disgraceful politician like Azmin. Subsequent chaos proved that not only the entire NSC top guns were clueless on how the Coronavirus spread, they were also ill-prepared to engage the pathogen in a warfare that has since gotten worse than before the lockdown.
Did Communications Minister Saifuddin Abdullah communicate any important information in the form of FAQs on a timely basis to the public to prevent panic and confusion? Nope. Hours before the lockdown announcement, panic buying had already begun after people read the rumours on social media. To add fuel to the rumour mill, the PM proudly said “wait for the big news tonight”.
The panic and confusion continued even “after” the lockdown announcement. Right, it was just a partial lockdown and Muhyiddin prefers the term MCO (movement control order). Whatever you like to call it, would it not be more effective to restrict movement by states or even by districts based on the geographical locations of the patients tested positive for the Coronavirus?
Hilariously, the prime minister announced a lockdown, but allowed everyone to travel interstate. People happily packed their luggages, pumped their tank to the fullest, and travelled back to their “kampung (hometown)” as if it was “Cuti-Cuti Malaysia” (vacations or holidays). Sure, there were some irresponsible and ignorant people who travelled instead of locked up at home.
However, a massive of those travellers who had chosen to return to their respective hometown all over the country were university students. They were chased out of their hostels because the genius Higher Education Ministry decided to shut down all public and private universities until March 31. The ministry essentially sent a mass of people to congested train stations and bus stations.
Instead of discouraging movement, the Higher Education Ministry encouraged them to move to a point of convergence, much to the pleasure of the Coronavirus. By the time the clueless Muhyiddin government realised the mistake and made a U-turn, it was already too late. The virus may have already spread among the packed travellers either at the transportation hubs or inside the buses or trains.
As one of four Senior Ministers, did Defense Minister Ismail Sabri communicate with his colleague, UMNO warlord and Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad, about the scope of coverage and all the relevant plans and procedures related to the so-called movement control order? Or was the Defense Minister fantasizing about turtle eggs during the NSC meeting?
Had the Pakatan Harapan coalition government still in charge, the racist UMNO and extremist PAS will accuse DAP of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam for closing down all the mosques nationwide and shutting down all the universities. Have anyone noticed how extraordinary quiet Islamist party PAS and UMNO Malay nationalist party are today?
To make matters worse, the top police chief was as clueless as the turtle egg Ismail Sabri. Obviously panicked and unprepared, IGP Hamid Bador made an impromptu decision on Tuesday (March 17), just hours before the lockdown goes into effect, that a special written “permit” to travel between states in the country must be obtained to check the spread of Covid-19.
Exactly how could a piece of paper prevent the spread of the virus is beyond comprehension. But the joke didn’t end there. Just 5 hours after the order was issued, the police was forced to revoke it at about 11pm on Tuesday after police stations nationwide were swarmed with people planning to travel. Again, Coronavirus might have spread at the packed police stations.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin was forced to be on live TV – begging the people to stay at home. The incompetent prime minister probably hadn’t realized that he was trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. He appeared to be blaming the people for his own government’s screw-up when he mentioned about bus stations packed with thousands of people.
The PM even warned that if his half-baked plan to contain the spread of Coronavirus fails, the lockdown could be extended beyond March 31. In his speech, Muhyiddin claimed his government was concerned over the 790 infected cases. Yet, he played petty politics and refused to invite Chief Ministers from the states controlled by opposition Pakatan Harapan for a special National Action Council meeting.
Now, after the damage has been done, the Higher Education Ministry made a U-turn and prohibited public and private university students from leaving their campus. Even if a conservative 20% of an estimated 700,000 public university students had escaped, the country is looking at 140,000 students who could potentially spread the virus in the rural areas.
Already, one passenger on Plusliner express bus from Johor Baru to Kuantan has been tested positive for Covid-19. And the turtle egg Defense Minister Ismail Sabri has threatened to unleash the military to enforce the movement control order – suggesting that the police under the leadership of IGP Hamid Bador is not capable of doing his job to enforce the lockdown order.
PM Muhyiddin should think twice before allowing his UMNO brother to bring in the military. It could create serious panic and more confusion – even perception – that the backdoor government is taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic to try to stay in power through military rule for as long as they want. The stock market may plunge further and investors may get out in droves.