Time To Let the Goose Lay the Eggs? (dated April 27, released April 28)
Facts, and Not Fear-induced Decision Making
1. Flattening the Curve
The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) congratulate the government and particularly the Ministry of Health for their brave action to address the COVID-19 epidemic. It was a very good move with the Movement Control Order (MCO) to flatten the curve and to put a pause to the economy so as to derive the data and to buy time to analyse evidence based data.
It must be understood that the MCO was intended to flatten the curve and NOT to eradicate COVID-19.
2. The Facts
We have now entered the fourth phase of the MCO and the real data has emerged for better understanding of the situation. The MICCI President Datuk Tan Cheng Kiat believes “It’s time to make decisions based not on fear but facts. The facts are that the Malaysian mortality rate from COVID-19 is extremely low and almost all the deaths are from underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer”.
“The rakyat has, over the course of the MCO, accepted the new normal of social distancing, sanitary practices and working from home”.
3. Mid to Long Term Damage
As a 183 year old chamber having seen and survived two world wars and multiple economic events, Tan said “given the facts that we know now, that a prolonged MCO will have far more damage to the country’s well-being than the epidemic itself given that the death rate is exponentially lower than existing non-communicable diseases or even the common flu”
He pointed out that “some key mid to long term effects of prolonged MCO are irreversible damage to the country’s fiscal health, loss of reputation as a global supply chain provider, loss of confidence from foreign direct investments, delayed education of future human talents and potential loss of employment of more than a million employees”.
He continues “there will have a downward spiral effect on the already challenged country’s economy as the ability of the country to derive sufficient revenues is further diminished by the above factors”.
4. Lesson of No Nationwide Lockdown
Datuk Tan shares “Lessons from China shows that they are able to rebound really quickly with no significant economic downturn, as they did not have a nationwide lockdown of all economic activity. They only localised the lockdown to the city or location with the highest infections, which we are already practicing with the EMCO in various parts of the country”.
5. Country Needs the Fiscal Strength for the Next Wave
“The facts are that coronavirus has always been part of nature and is here to stay. By prolonging MCO, the herd immunity of the rakyat and the country’s financial strength will be severely impaired. Imagine when the second wave comes, with a revenue-starved treasury, our healthcare services may not be able to cope”.
Without a robust return to economic activity, our country’s revenue will be starved and would not have the capability of providing sufficient vaccines for significant portion of the population.
“Dishing out misdirected populist cash handouts and encouraging businesses to take up more debt is not a sustainable option in the long run. Wage subsidy programmes will not guarantee sustained employment, as without business revenue, promises of no employee terminations will be meaningless,” warns Datuk Tan.
The MICCI President’s stand is “with these facts and evidence based conclusions, we are of the opinion that the MCO should be lifted immediately so as to let the economy rejuvenate and significant employment assured. This is much better for the nation than fear-induced micro-management of the economy”.
He concludes, “in conjunction with the lifting of the MCO, active enforcement of MOH SOP compliance, localised EMCO, border controls, social distancing and sanitary practices should continue.”