Let’s set our differences aside to nurture Malaysia back to health

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 4): Oft-times, in the face of adversity and crisis, the most Malaysian thing to do is put our differences aside and work together to overcome them. This is most apparent during natural disasters, or monsoon floods. Other examples include past financial crises, as well as the SARS and Japanese Encephalitis health crises, to name a few.

Our beloved country is still in a health and economic crisis. Many countries, including Malaysia, who had successfully contained the virus before are currently seeing a spike in cases due to the Delta and Lambda variants, which are more lethal and infectious than earlier versions. Yes, there may be much reason for many of us to be angry and play the blame game. But, the omnipresent threat of the virus ill affords us such luxury.

It is exactly this threat that underscores the urgency of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which is based on six core principles, including reopening our economy; being guided by science and data; taking a whole-of-nation approach; and ensuring the plan is dynamic and adaptable.

At the heart of this core, however, is a sincere and serious effort cutting across party and ideological lines to embrace a diverse set of opinions — from opposition parties, non-governmental organisations, the business community as well as economic, health and social welfare experts — towards a common goal.

Ultimately, however, it is all about the Rakyat’s lives, which must be protected by ensuring our healthcare system — particularly its capacity to respond — can cope, and by ramping up our National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

It is important for everyone to remain united and focused on the task at hand by looking at the bigger picture. It is like we are on a flight, and the plane suffers some technical problems that need to be fixed in mid-air to avoid a crash. Instead of focusing on ensuring everyone’s safe landing, the crew bicker about changing the pilot instead. Imagine us the Rakyat as passengers on that flight — how do we feel?

Lives are at stake in our country, and the Rakyat need to know that we have got our act together to try and help this country exit safely from the pandemic. So, why waste a valuable opportunity to pool our viewpoints, knowledge, ideas and resources systematically via the NRP? I believe the NRP is our best hope yet — and currently our most viable multi-voice solution — in exiting this pandemic.

This is why we have also invited members of opposing political parties like Pakatan Harapan, Warisan and of course, Pejuang, who has unfortunately officially refused the invitation. In gathering viewpoints from as many quarters as possible, a good idea is a good idea, it should not matter who proposes it. In fact, this is exactly what the MOF did during Budget 2021, when we incorporated various proposals — even from the Opposition parties — in the budget.

Pejuang’s rejection aside, this will not stop us from continuing to reach out and engage all sides to consider everyone’s views in implementing the NRP. As I have repeatedly said, the plan needs to be dynamic because the virus mutates aggressively, and we need to be agile in adapting the plan to current situations.

Closing ranks does not mean we have to agree with all the policies presented by the government of the day. In fact, many within the council have been the government’s fiercest and harshest critics. But when lives are clearly at stake and our healthcare is tottering, we must rise above our differences and work together so we can truly bring the country out of the doldrums of this wretched pandemic.

The NRP is meant to “cover” us until December 2021, and until Covid-19 can be managed as endemic. Beyond December, 2021, the nation’s recovery will be supported by Budget 2022, to address short-term economic revitalization efforts, and the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, representing medium-term strategies to structurally reform the economy.

Domestic political cooperation on managing Covid-19 is not something new. In Canada, policies on economic relief and health safety measures were developed with broad consensus from both sides of the aisle. New Zealand which has been exemplary in the fight against Covid-19 established a bipartisan committee to oversee the nation’s pandemic response. Most recently in South Korea, both the government and opposition came together in a rare bipartisan agreement on additional budgetary allocations.

Our people deserve the same, if not better. Why can’t we show the same political will and cooperation to save our Rakyat? Our esteemed parliamentarians did this for the Covid-19 Bill in August 2020, for which I am sure the people are deeply thankful as it enabled aid and assistance to be channelled to the Rakyat.

I am confident we will be able to do it again through the NRP. I trust that all stakeholders are rich in their desire to see our beloved country free from the clutches of a devastating global pandemic. We must seize this opportunity to work together, cooperate and ensure that Malaysia gets back on its growth trajectory.

I pray for sense over political satire; and for peace over posturing. Do not let our differences douse the Malaysian spirit to nurse our nation back on its feet again. Let us, for once, put those differences aside, and draw upon that sense of solidarity from deep within each of us, to unite and ensure victory in our war against Covid-19, so we can one day declare that we have Menang Bersama!

by Tengku Zafrul Aziz

Noor Hisham in tough spot over questions of impartiality

PETALING JAYA: The post of health director-general requires that the holder be guided by science in the performance of his duties, according to one who has served in the position before.

The comment from Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman comes at a time when current director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, faces questions about his impartiality.

Noor Hisham announced last Sunday that Parliament, which was to reconvene on Monday after last Thursday’s proceedings were called off, would be suspended due to the detection of a few Covid-19 cases in the building. This called into question his independence and neutrality.

Abu Bakar, who held the post from 1991 to 2001, said many questions had been raised by the suspension of Parliament, adding that the rationale behind it was not clear to him. Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman.

Speaking to FMT, he asked whether Noor Hisham was following the same standard imposed on all gatherings in a closed environment or applying a higher standard on Parliament.

He remarked that some people might see high stakes in a parliament session since it would be a gathering of political leaders.

“I imagine the DG to be in a tough situation, but all the more reason to be professional and to be guided by science,” he said.

He said it was crucial for any director-general to work in the interest of the public and that this must be apparent to the people so that trust would be maintained.

The director-general, he added, must ensure that all his decisions were made with professionalism rather than political considerations.

“Of course, in doing so the political bosses may well disagree and overrule the views of the DG, which is their right. However, the DG should provide the appropriate professional advice, which is his duty.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, head of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, agreed that public perception of the director-general’s role was important.

He said people in positions like Noor Hisham’s would have failed in their roles if they were unable to command the trust of the public.

“They have failed because they will be seen by the public as being unable to speak truth to power and willing to compromise and change their professional advice based on the need to keep their jobs,” he said. “Once that trust is broken, it is hard to regain it.

“And a successful response during a public health emergency requires that the people have trust and confidence in health authorities.”

by Imran Ariff

Umno ‘bercerai’ dengan PN, menteri letak jawatan, PAS akan adakan mesyuarat tergempar

PETALING JAYA: PAS akan mengadakan mesyuarat tergempar bagi membincangkan situasi politik negara ketika ini serta kedudukan kerajaan.

Timbalan Presiden PAS, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, berkata langkah itu susulan keputusan Umno menarik balik sokongan terhadap kerajaan Perikatan Nasional (PN) dan Perdana Menteri Muhyiddin Yassin diikuti peletakan jawatan menteri daripada Umno.

“Kita akan adakan mesyuarat segera,” katanya kepada FMT.

Terdahulu, Umno mengumumkan menarik balik sokongan terhadap kerajaan dan Muhyiddin.

Presiden Ahmad Zahid Hamidi berkata, susulan itu Umno menggesa Muhyiddin meletakkan jawatan secara terhormat selepas kegagalannya serta keingkaran kerajaan pimpinan beliau terhadap titah Agong supaya Ordinan Darurat dibahas dan diungkaikan.

Sementara itu, Shamsul Anuar Nasarah daripada Umno turut mengumumkan peletakan jawatan sebagai Menteri Tenaga dan Sumber Asli.

Ia menyaksikan kedudukan kerajaan Muhyiddin semakin rapuh dan bakal tumbang bila-bila masa jika tiada majoriti. – FMT

oleh Faiz Zainudin

Dakwaan NGO Islam tak dibenarkan urus jenazah Covid-19 tidak berasas

Shah Alam: Dakwaan serta tuduhan sesetengah pihak atau pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) Islam bahawa Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) menghalang mereka terbabit dalam pengurusan jenazah pesakit Covid-19 adalah tidak berasas.

Pengarah Jais Datuk Mohd Shahzihan Ahmad berkata, jabatan itu sudah menjalin kerjasama berterusan dengan lebih lapan NGO Islam dengan kekuatan lebih 130 sukarelawan yang terbabit secara langsung dalam pengurusan jenazah pesakit Covid-19.

“Jais amat menghargai sumbangan semua NGO Islam berkenaan yang sudah mengendalikan dengan baik pengurusan 2,071 jenazah pesakit Covid-19 sejak Januari 2021.

“Perlu diingatkan sebarang ketetapan dan pendekatan yang diambil dan dilaksanakan oleh Jais adalah untuk kepentingan umat Islam seluruhnya.

“Dalam konteks ini, ia dibuat bagi menjaga kepentingan semua pihak termasuk pihak hospital, petugas, sukarelawan, keluarga atau waris, agensi dan pihak-pihak yang terbabit secara langsung atau tidak langsung,” katanya dalam kenyataan hari ini.

Mengulas lanjut, beliau berkata, Jais membuat keputusan untuk meneliti, menilai serta menstruktur semula peranan dan pembabitan NGO Islam dalam mengurus jenazah pesakit Covid-19 selepas beberapa isu dan masalah berbangkit membabitkan pihak itu.

Katanya, ia termasuk kes ‘limpahan’ jenazah di beberapa hospital negeri ini yang tular sebelum ini.

Mohd Shahzihan berkata, NGO Islam memberi sumbangan besar dalam pengurusan jenazah pesakit Covid-19 dan pembabitannya tetap diselaras, dipantau dan dibantu sesuai dengan tanggungjawab Jais sebagai agensi yang mengurus hal ehwal Islam di Selangor.

“Mana-mana NGO Islam yang berhasrat untuk bersama kami dipelawa menyertai rakan NGO lain sedia ada untuk bersama menunaikan tuntutan fardu kifayah dengan syarat sanggup mematuhi syarat dan kod etika yang ditentukan oleh pihak Jais.

“Selain daripada itu, NGO Islam yang diiktiraf hendaklah melaksanakan tanggungjawabnya berdasarkan prinsip hukum syarak, khidmat bakti dan mengutamakan kepentingan umum,” katanya.

Jelasnya lagi, jabatan itu komited dan tidak akan berkompromi dengan mana-mana pihak atau individu yang mengenepikan kepentingan umum dan mengeksploitasi keadaan genting ini untuk kepentingan lainnya. – HARIAN METRO

oleh Norzamira Che Noh