There is an emergent consciousness developing amongst the rural and common people in Malaysia. They include the majority Bumiputera and non Malays who are neither rent seekers nor the urban ‘educated’ or affluent.
Most people are awakening to the tragic failure of government to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic effectively because of criminal interference by organized anti-social groups parading under the guise of ‘concerned Malaysians’ and NGO’s.
Malaysia overcame several epidemics in its history, many in truth pandemics, when it was a less developed nation in the 50’s and 60’s. There was malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis (TB), small pox, diphtheria, cholera and a host of other infectious and fatal diseases. These diseases killed off, mainly children and the under nourished.
Yet it was the humble local health officer, some trained abroad, who went village to village inculcating in people the need to isolate, to adopt better personal hygiene practices like washing their hands and boiling their drinking water. These public health officers were locals who responded to the call of duty and in pursuit of their professional obligations, reached out to the people. And it worked like clockwork.
They delivered and administered drugs and vaccines to the common folk. They educated rural communities in overcoming superstition, ignorance and fear associated with vaccines. The drive to eradicate these diseases succeeded. It was a bold effort without foreign funded NGO political interference and its success drew the attention of academics fromm various schools of tropical medicine. Yet we know little of these gallant footsoldiers of public health today.
Doctors were far and few in those days.
So what’s gone so terribly wrong with Malaysia’s approach to dealing with Covid-19 some 60 years later?
Today it seems that the more foreign degrees health professionals acquire, the less of an education from it they are able to demonstrate when dealing with pandemics or applying the sciences they are meant to have acquired from abroad. There is more focus amongst them on civil rights and the ‘right’ to refuse to conform, because some “will not be caught wearing a face nappy”.
In the midst of all of this is a seemingly ineffective rudderless government unable or unwilling to take those hard decisions by enforcing public health laws. They fear what foreign funded NGO’s and the liberals in the community may think or how they might react to harsh if necessary effective enforcement of public health rules.
In this context, it’s not just Asia, but the world that appears to have forgotten how Lee Kuan Yew would have dealt with the pandemic. Of course those chauvinistic and parochial observers in Malaysia will be quick to point out that Lee was Chinese and use that as justification to demand a Chinese led government in Purtrajaya. But not so fast.
Lee Kuan Yew had good reason for not taking in every Chinese Malaysian who applied to migrate to Singapore in the 1960’s. He only accepted the best and brightest and left the racial chauvinists behind where they belonged.
The belief that the pandemic and its outcomes in Malaysia is a Malay government problem is about as credible as the perception that the pandemic was caused by the Chinese. It is a perception that’s gain ground worldwide. Thats the mind set that Lee fought to eradicate.
Tragically most of the problem today behind the spread and management of Covid-19 is due to politicization of the problem and a refusal even to the point of death to conform to controls because it is administered by a Malay government.
Breaches of public health preventative rules is often blamed on Malays alone. Much of it driven by foreign NGO’s their local representatives and non Malays using it as a tool to destabilize government and the Malays as a nation.
Malaysia continues to labour under the spread of a disease that even the worlds most advanced nations from the US, India, China, Europe and Israel aren’t able to completely control or eradicate.
To blame the Malays and government alone does not and will not help in the eradication of Covid-19.