KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — The continued suspension of Parliament meant Malaysians unhappy with the unexpected return of the movement control order have no platform to communicate this to the government, said political analysts.
Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun said that while there was apparent displeasure over the latest reversal and previous inconsistencies with the standard operating procedures, elected representatives could not convey their constituents’ dissatisfaction to the government.
“A mounting level of public fatigue coupled with outrage is indeed perceived nowadays, as the government often flip-flopped on their contradictory pronouncements of new and restrictive regulations.
“However, this dissatisfactory public mood finds scarcely any way to express itself, as Parliament is not sitting and election is not forthcoming, and any criticism of the Emergency could be criminally prosecuted,” he told Malay Mail.
On May 10, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the entire country will be put under MCO from May 12 to June 7, due to rising Covid-19 in the past few weeks.
However, just two days before that, Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had insisted the government would not intend to implement a MCO nationwide and would only use a targeted approach.
According to geostrategy expert Prof Dr Azmi Hassan, the vacillation over the MCOs could erode public confidence in the government’s competence in handling the Covid-19 pandemic that has been in the country for over a year.
“The policy announced seems to be so sudden but the pandemic has been going on for some time that is the question that the people asking whether the government is dealing with pandemic correctly, I think that is the reason why there are a lot of objections or sinister arguments about the current MCO so it doesn’t give a positive look to the PN government.
“It seems that they are at a loss on how to deal with the pandemic. It is not good for the country, it is not good for the government if they make pandemic policies that don’t come from much thinking,’’ he said.
Azmi also said that the government must introduce further assistance or stimulus measures to prevent the economy from being further affected by the latest MCO.
“Since the current MCO will run at least four weeks and probably will go beyond the designated timeline, yes, a new stimulus package should be introduced since not only businesses are hurt but more importantly the B40 group is in really dire need of help from the government,’’ he said.
Oh concurred and said a new stimulus package was needed if the government could fund it.
“Every round of MCO would have to come hand in hand with yet another round of socioeconomic assistance package, as many sectors in the economy are adversely affected by the lockdowns.
“It would be curious to see in what way this round would the government raise the funds needed for such new packages,’’ he said.
On April 13, Muhyiddin stated during a pre-Vaisakhi celebration that the government’s coffers have been significantly thinned out to prop up the economy and help Malaysians in the Covid era.