Anwar forms Covid-19 advisory group, tells Perikatan govt to listen to recommendations for country’s sake

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says the Covid-19 Advisory Group has already briefed him on its initial findings, and that it will be presented to the bi-partisan committee on the Emergency tomorrow. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says the Covid-19 Advisory Group has already briefed him on its initial findings, and that it will be presented to the bi-partisan committee on the Emergency tomorrow. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 ― Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said that a Covid-19 Advisory Group led by himself will present recommendations to the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government on ways to better tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Anwar said that the group, which includes the likes of Dr Wan M Hasni, Dr Azman Hussain, Dr Mohamad Salmi Mohd Sohod, Dr Fahmi Ngah, Dr Helmi Zakaria and Subang MP Wong Chen, has already briefed him on its initial findings, and that it will be presented to the bi-partisan committee on the Emergency tomorrow.

“Under the Office of the Opposition Leader, I assembled a Covid-19 Advisory Group of distinguished medical and data science experts and instructed them to prepare a comprehensive and objective review of the government’s pandemic policies. 

“We are very concerned about the dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases and reports that the healthcare system is reaching its capacity to combat Covid-19 in some parts of the country,” he said.  

Anwar said the recommendations include transparent sharing of Covid-19 health data, bringing in subject matter experts to implement more creative ways for pandemic management, develop targeted, nuanced lockdown measures and ending of the Emergency and the resumption of Parliament.

Anwar added that the sudden increase in Covid-19 cases in the country suggests that the PN government’s pandemic preparedness has been a complete failure, adding that the continued implementation of poorly designed and executed movement control order (MCO) policies will lead to more cases and deaths.

“The government’s policy decisions could have and should have been debated in Parliament. While PN claimed that suspending Parliament is necessary so the government can focus on fighting the pandemic, the Prime Minister’s arrogance has proven the contrary.

“The absence of accountability, transparency and collaborative thinking is directly responsible for the failed policy decisions leading us into the dark days the country now faces,” he said.

Anwar added that the analysis from the Opposition Covid-19 Advisory Group drew from well-respected public data sources including John Hopkins University, Imperial College, University of Oxford, Apple and Google.

However, he said the advisory group was unable to access data from local sources as the Ministry of Health (MoH) refused to share anonymized, granular data about the pandemic.

“This lack of transparency is a major obstacle preventing local experts from understanding and confronting the pandemic effectively,” he said.

“As I said earlier ― the government is hogging the vaccine procurement process. The government is likewise hogging data about the pandemic and preventing anyone outside a small group to conduct analysis.

“In other words, we were able to see the problems using public data sources. But our hands are tied behind our back in trying to develop solutions that are tailored to Malaysia. Nevertheless, we have a clear idea of what needs to be done going forward,” he said.

Anwar added that Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases are increasing despite imposing one of the strictest lockdown regimes in the world compared to other countries where less stringent social distancing measures are tied to a decline in total cases.

“In other words, the MCO, as it has been implemented, does not effectively reduce the total number of cases. The measures have not been effective in achieving the desired result.

Anwar said that he hopes the PN administration will take heed of the recommendations that will be given to them in the interest of protecting all Malaysians.

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