• Office of YB Wong Chen

Aspects to consider on whether Malaysia is ready to relax the MCO

Good morning. Many EU countries are relaxing or contemplating relaxing the lockdown. In Germany, where mass testing is available, the relaxation of lockdown starts today and will be carried out in stages. Of course, you have to acknowledge the fact that Germany has also been super disciplined, acted early and has ample ICU beds on standby.

There are some basic health milestones that we must have in place before contemplating relaxing the MCO. These are including but not limited to: 1. Mass and efficient testing capability; 2. Good contact tracing ability (including electronic tracking); 3. Robust and good health facilities; 4. Adequate protection for frontliners; and 5. Availability of good and reliable data.

We need transparency on all the above milestones. Have we met them? Are we at 30%, 50% or 80%? These health information and data need to be made available, scrutinised and constructively debated.

On the other hand, the economic stress from the lockdown is very real. People need jobs and companies need to survive. Is the wage support subsidy working in keeping jobs? In the cases of the poor and hungry, the economic issue is absolutely urgent and dire. Is the government aid and food distribution efforts fast, efficient and fair?

Finally, a key decider in terms of economics, is the fiscal numbers. How much money has the government spent and how much more reserves does it have? If the government is pressed for money then the MCO, will probably need to end earlier than later. If the government is fiscally sound, then it can afford to take a safer cautionary approach.

There is no hard and fast rule to follow on whether to relax or extend a lockdown. But you cannot take an approach of “monkey see, monkey do”. Each country has to do its own internal SWOT assessments. Only by merging and analysing health and economic data, can we start to map out an end to the MCO.