Economists advise against Emergency and lockdowns, say harming economy more than tackling Covid-19

Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram addresses reporters during a virtual press conference at Tamu Hotel, Kuala Lumpur April 19, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram addresses reporters during a virtual press conference at Tamu Hotel, Kuala Lumpur April 19, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — The Emergency’s disadvantages to the economy outweigh the advantages it gave the government in combating Covid-19, said economists.

Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) research adviser Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram argued that the measures such as the Emergency and the movement control order (MCO) have a greater impact on the economy than in controlling the pandemic.

He said nations like Japan, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia have managed to balance preserving their economies and managing the pandemic without resorting to similar measures.

“Nations in the East used way better methods than the West and we are following the West when we should be looking to our neighbours, some poorer nations than us, and handling the pandemic was better than us.

“Even in Daegu, South Korea, where the pandemic started for them they never called an MCO or things like that to control the spread. In truth an MCO is killing the economy.

“We are so worried about foreign investors leaving but we find local investors involved in less than 10 per cent in Malaysia’s real economy,” Jomo said in a virtual press conference by the committee for ending the Emergency Declaration chaired by former Federal Territories minister Khalid Abdul Samad.

“Throughout history we’ve had five emergencies and in all of them Parliament was not suspended. It was only hung during the fourth emergency in 1969.

“But trust from investors is low now due to the EO and big corporations who benefited tremendously before laying off staff without any respite in sight,” he said, adding that he hoped the Emergency would be lifted soon.

Another economist, Nursari Ahmad Radhi, claimed confidence in the local market declined after the Emergency was declared.

He said transparency in all arms of the government was necessary to build investor confidence, noting that the unemployment rate remained elevated.

Muhammed Abdul argued that the government has been limited in its outreach since declaring the Emergency. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Muhammed Abdul argued that the government has been limited in its outreach since declaring the Emergency. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Former economic advisor to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Muhammed Abdul Khalid, said there were not enough measures being taken to address the unemployment rate that rose 49 per cent from before the pandemic.

He also argued that the government has been limited in its outreach since declaring the Emergency, and was losing out on the opportunity to tap the expertise and knowledge of Malaysians in overcoming the pandemic as well as to restore the economy.

The committee led by Khalid has been attempting to secure an audience wit the Agong since before Ramadan to deliver a petition calling for an early end to the Emergency.

They went to the Istana Negara on March 26 but were not granted an audience.

They plan to go there tomorrow to try again.

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