While the Covid-19 continues to cause disruption all round the globe, politicians here and almost in all countries have not really reacted professionally.
In Malaysia, the government too has been seen lacking the will power and experience to make hard decisions.
Frankly there is no two ways about it. It is a real war out there and lack of stern action from day one of the control movement order (MCO) is beginning to show its consequences.
The advisory and ‘soft’ approach has just not worked out as anticipated. The impact on economy was underestimated by many nations including here.
But since we are at the tipping point, it is time the government of Malaysia forget about their gross domestics products GDP, inflation rates, stock markets and what have you not.
Who cares at this moment of time about the GDP. After all, I dare say 90% of the population does not even understand what GDP stands for and how it works.
Neither do they know what basket the government carries to calculate the inflation rate.
An economic stimulus strategy in layperson terms means putting adequate cash in his pocket. We do not need fancy terms to comprehend financial or economic terminology.
Now, back to the Covid-19 issue. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin may have got it all wrong and that goes to his team of advisors too.
Since his additional economic stimulus package announcement, politicians, economist and non-governmental organisation started to question his recommendation asking Malaysians to withdraw their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) during this crisis which goes against the very grain of assisting the needy.
Majority of the EPF contributors are in the B40 and M40 categories.
The savings are for their old days. And it is the very same government that has been advocating that contributors are not encouraged to withdraw their savings until the need comes.
During these times it is the duty of the government to assist all Malaysians ride the tide collectively but looks like the ordinary man is being told to do the reverse.
Instead of handing immediate cash relieve to them, the government wants the rakyat to use their own savings to pay utility bills and other mandatory taxes.
Are we saving ourselves or are we more interested to save utility companies like the electricity provider, water departments and others.
The government should have on the contrary asked for a three to six month waiver on all bills to immediately free some cash for the public.
All sorts of taxes should be waived for this year the least, starting April. And this includes assessments, ‘cukai tanah’, Indah Water Konsortium bills and the rest.
The rakyat is no longer interested in any politics at the moment. We are facing a threat like never before.
We need leaders who make sound and valid decisions.
The government must bite the bullet now! Not tomorrow or day after.
By: Narinder Pal
Narinder is a veteran political observer and a practicing pharmacist