| 4 October 2022, Tuesday |

Former Malaysian PM says Covid fight was ‘worse than war’ but predicts strong recovery

Malaysia’s former prime minister has called leading the country’s fight against an onslaught of Covid-19 cases as “worse than war,” but he believes the country is poised to return as a greater economic power than before the outbreak.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was thrown into the middle of a crisis as Malaysia’s prime minister in March 2020, as the virus spread fast over the world.

Following his request, Malaysia’s King proclaimed a state of emergency, and Mr Muhyiddin was given exceptional powers to assist in dealing with the public health issue.

He resigned in August 2021, ending his 17-month term as Malaysia’s shortest-serving prime minister, although his effect was substantial.

Mr Muhyiddin, speaking exclusively to The National in his first interview as chairman of Malaysia’s National Recovery Council, said he thought his country had a brighter future ahead of it.
“It was critical to declare a state of emergency and be granted extra authorities in order to control the epidemic,” Mr Muhyiddin added.

“These special laws had been available for many years, but they had seldom been used.”

“This was the first time they had been employed for this purpose.”

“People thought these emergency laws were like being at war, but I assured them it was worse.”

A tough approach to virus control
Despite early success in keeping cases low, Malaysia rode the infection rollercoaster, reaching a peak of around 21,000 daily cases in early September 2021.

From January to August of last year, a state of emergency was declared, and Mr Muhyiddin’s administration was given exceptional powers to pass new legislation without legislative approval.

Spot penalties for violating rigorous Covid-19 restrictions have been increased from 1,000 Ringgit to up to 50,000 Ringgit.

Several lockdowns were implemented during the epidemic, with the most recent lifting only in October, allowing vaccinated residents to resume regular life.

Mr Muhyiddin, who was among the first in the country to get immunized, said Malaysia’s strength during the epidemic was its ties with neighboring countries.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional coalition that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation in Southeast Asia.

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam comprise the group.

Special meetings between the countries allowed for the exchange of knowledge, collaboration, and accomplishments in the treatment of Covid-19.

  • The National News