The Covid-19 spike accountability game

OCTOBER 7 — The recent Covid-19 spikes shouldn't have surprised anyone closely following the upturn in cases.

What should be present right now is accountability, but of course, it is gone along with many Malaysians' patience.

It is disgusting to blame the uptick on migrants as some quarters have been doing when the reality is the situation could have been contained if the SOPs had been clear and adhered to at all levels.

In both Sabah and Kedah, it is a reminder that when it comes to hygiene and pandemic SOPs the bodies in charge of enforcement think they do not need to apply.

Have we learned nothing from the spike in cases when hapless foreign workers were corralled in stuffed detention centres? Of course the virus spread; of course our numbers rose.

In Sabah, the virus spread from a lockup, to a police station, to a prison. It makes you wonder — did detainees get to social distance? Did they have masks on? Were they allowed to wash their hands? Were the medical personnel attending to them properly protected?

The simple reality is that detainees are not considered to have the right to humane treatment and that endangering them by exposing them to a deadly virus is not something to care about.

I remember reading a publication from a neighbouring country and noticing something really odd about their house style. The second mention of an individual would see the use of honorifics such as Mr, Ms and Dr.

If the person was charged with a crime, that person was never given honorifics. I do not understand the motive but to any outsider it would seem as though it meant these people were not worthy enough to deserve an honorific.

Whatever a person's crime being detained should not mean you forfeit access to healthcare or your basic human rights.

Ill-treatment of prisoners aside, it is time we stop treating our new government with kid gloves. When the cases were low, our politicians were too happy to take credit, to see their faces on murals and to go on about how Malaysia was a Covid-19 success.

Now the cases are at an all-time high and instead of aid and reassurance, the rakyat is being threatened with a rotan.

Someone needs to brief the government speech writers that making rotan jokes when a one-year-old just died from Covid-19 is not appropriate.

The SOPs are not being followed by some senior ranking politicians. It is not “politicising” the disease in any way (no matter what some people would claim) but a statement of fact.

Go to the internet and there are too many pictures of our politicians not wearing masks, hugging, shaking hands and attending weddings, meetings and various non-essential gatherings without practising social distancing.

What is unacceptable is there has been little remorse, instead there has been doubling down on admonishing the rakyat for being supposedly complacent and a certain minister making TV appearances just to announce which hapless citizen got detained today.

We have only around 3,000 ventilators in a country of 30 million. That's a terrifying statistic and a reminder that if we were to get as bad as the Philippines or Indonesia, it would be disastrous.

Now is not the time to play the "let's not politicise things" game. Politics matters. Sometimes politicising issues is the only way to get them noticed and it is on our politicians to get this country running the way it should .

It is not politicising to expect the politicians to live up to the demands of their station and to remember that they were elected to serve, not to lord over us. 

Remember this, Malaysians. We deserve better than what we've gotten since the Sheraton move and now is not the time to stop demanding our just due: a functioning government and competent politicians. We've never needed them more.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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