The frontliners we need but not the government we deserve — Jamie Oliver

MARCH 26 — These are unprecedented times. No vision 2020 could ever predict the events that unravelled in Malaysia in the past month which saw a legitimate government toppled by friends from within and our livelihood ravaged by an enemy from outside.

Like it or not, our nation is at war with Covid-19. And in times of war, we can't be choosers. Well, we definitely didn't choose our government but it is all rather moot in the wake of a global crisis.

Not content with the daily battle against Covid-19, there's also a war between fake accounts on social media about who's to blame for the pandemic outbreak within our borders. So was it PH or PN who opened the lid to the Covid-19 outbreak within our country?

The answer is neither.

Pointing fingers is nothing more than psychological tactics for legitimacy. No matter how many screenshots of the PH government not barring Chinese tourists into Malaysia these cybertroopers are sharing, the massive outbreak we are experiencing now has no relation with these tourists whatsoever.

In fact, PH did emphatically well to contain the first-wave outbreak that they received praise from WHO. If their handling of Covid-19 was complacent because they were allegedly reactionary rather than precautionary for not shutting our borders completely, then the same can also be said about PN which usurped PH.

In reality, no government in the world was prepared for this pandemic. Only after Covid-19 cases increased by triple digits per day did PN make the reactionary measure of shutting down Malaysia completely from the outside world.

Like countless other nations around the globe, PN made the bold but necessary decision to instill a nationwide partial-lockdown or a movement control order. A commendable move and unprecedented in the history of our country.

Unfortunately, that's not the only thing unprecedented about this PN government. Their formation marks the first coalition of MPs in our country rather than a coalition of political parties.

An unbalanced cabinet ensued, with senior positions given to members of a party not having the majority inside the coalition. What’s more, although bloated with 77 ministerial positions, there was not even room for party presidents inside the coalition to take up any role.

Unprecedented in that Pakatan Nasional, a sub-coalition inside the Perikatan Nasional coalition, viewed themselves as opposition and would still carry out “check and balance” in parliament. Heck, they even asserted demands for PM Muhyiddin to adhere to and only vouched support until GE15.

Infighting and dissatisfaction was rampant with senior wanita Umno leader Azalina Othman even “schooled” the premier by tweeting a tutorial on how to make a government coalition properly.

Speaking of women leaders, PN is also unprecedented for having the least women MPs inside a government coalition in more than 30 years. As such makes Muhyiddin’s coalition not only overwhelmingly monoethnic but androcentric too.

From having the first woman DPM to having a Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development that deemed women’s welfare as “non-essential” by terminating the Talian Nur hotline during the MCO.

Only after receiving backlash did they overturn the decision and don’t get me started on the deputy

minister who put more attention on what a woman wears than their very livelihood being threatened.

Worse, the PN government is instead choosing to follow the precedent set by BN by withholding funds from opposition MPs. A regrettable decision considering the dire situation we find ourselves in.

Now is not the time for revenge politics but for a bipartisan fight against the ravaging healthcare and economic effect of Covid-19.

We do not need half-baked solutions such as allowing EPF contributors to dip into their own pension funds when they could realistically be without a job by the end of the month.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health decision to extend the contract of medical officers for another two years without a pay rise is a serious injustice for our heroes in the frontline.

Unlike this government we do not deserve, these courageous frontliners are exactly what we need in this global crisis. The only constant throughout PH and PN leaderships, our doctors, nurses and police officers have been risking their lives everyday so that the virus can be contained.

Surely, they deserve more than just our gratitude and half-baked measures by our government?

Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate. Let’s all hope for Muhyiddin to come up with a proper stimulus package to combat Covid-19 tomorrow.

* Jamie Oliver is a writer from Kuching

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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