Kenyataan Media Dr Ong Kian Ming, Ahli Parlimen Bangi dan Penolong Pengarah Pendidikan Politik Kebangsaan Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP) pada 18 Januari 2021

10 Soalan untuk Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham, Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan

Dua hari yang lalu, pada 16 Januari 2021, Malaysia mencapai rekod terbaru kes COVID-19 iaitu sebanyak 4,029 kes. Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Kedua (PKP 2.0) baru bermula minggu ini dan akan berlangsung selama dua minggu dari 13 Januari hingga 26 Januari 2021. Sebagai perbandingan, kita mencapai kes tertinggi sebanyak 235 kes pada 26 Mac 2020, semasa PKP pertama (PKP 1.0) berlaku. Saringan harus diberikan kepada kepemimpinan Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham, Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan (KPK) dan barisan hadapan kesihatan awam atas usaha gigih mereka untuk memerangi wabak COVID-19. Tetapi sembilan bulan setelah PKP pertama berlalu, ada beberapa persoalan yang masih belum terjawab dalam perjuangan kita untuk melawan penularan wabak COVID-19. Saya harap KP Dr. Noor Hisham boleh memberikan jawapan yang meyakinkan untuk 10 soalan yang berikut supaya orang ramai percaya bahawa kerajaan ini mempunyai rancangan yang komprehensif untuk mengawal wabak ini.

S1: Berapakah jumlah saringan COVID-19 harian yang dilakukan oleh Kementerian Kesihatan (KKM) dan berapakah peratusan (% ) kes positif harian?

Fokus harian adalah mengenai jumlah kes COVID-19 harian baru. Walaupun nombor ini penting, kita juga perlu mengetahui jumlah saringan yang dilakukan setiap hari dan peratusan (%) kes yang positif. Ini akan memberi kita petunjuk mengenai (i) keupayaan saringan kita dan (ii) kadar jangkitan harian. Menurut laporan pada bulan Oktober 2020, kapasiti saringan harian Malaysia ketika itu adalah sekitar 54,000 tetapi jumlah saringan yang dilakukan adalah kurang dari separuh jumlah ini. Sekiranya keupayaan saringan harian tidak dapat dicapai kerana kekurangan sumber manusia, sektor swasta (yang juga sedang melakukan saringan swasta) patut dilibatkan untuk mengatasi jurang ini. Statistik saringan harian untuk setiap negeri juga dapat menunjukkan kekurangan bilangan kit saringan di tempat seperti Sabah. Mengetahui kadar jangkitan harian juga merupakan petunjuk mengenai tren jangkitan. Terdapat banyak permintaan kepada KPK untuk mengumumkan angka saringan harian tetapi sehingga kini, atas alasan yang tidak diketahui, angka ini tidak diumumkan.

S2: Berapakah jumlah pengesan kontak (“contact tracers”) yang digunakan oleh KKM? Apakah langkah yang telah dilaksanakan untuk mengatasi kekurangan pengesan kontak?

Oleh kerana jumlah kes baru harian mencecah 1000 kes, tidak menghairankan apabila pengesan kontak akan terbeban. Sejak beberapa minggu yang lalu, didapati laporan di mana beberapa keluarga yang telah dikesan COVID-19 positif terpaksa menunggu beberapa hari sebelum dihubungi oleh pihak KKM. Pada awal bulan ini, rakan saya dan mantan Timbalan Menteri Kesihatan, Dr. Lee Boon Chye, meminta tambahan seramai 10,000 pengesan kontak sementara untuk menangani lonjakan jumlah kes COVID-19.

Maklumat umum mengenai jumlah pengesan kontak adalah sangat kekurangan dan perbincangan mengenai keperluan untuk menambah jumlah pengesan kontak tidak kelihatan. Tanpa infrastruktur pengesanan kontak yang efisien, kemampuan kita untuk mengawal wabak ini selepas berakhirnya PKP 2.0 akan tetap dipersoalkan.

S3: Bolehkah maklumat lokasi yang lebih tepat mengenai kes COVID-19 disalurkan secara terbuka?

Sehingga hari ini, KKM enggan memberikan maklumat lokasi yang lebih tepat untuk kes COVID-19 baru. Menurut penjelasan rasmi, kerajaan tidak mahu menimbulkan rasa panik di tempat-tempat di mana kes-kes positif COVID-19 telah dikenal pasti. Tetapi pada waktu yang sama, KP memohon orang ramai untuk mengelakkan tempat yang sesak. Strategi yang lebih telus dan berkesan adalah agar maklumat lokasi yang lebih tepat diberikan kepada orang ramai supaya mereka dapat maklumat rasmi. Tanpa pengesahan rasmi, spekulasi yang tidak diinginkan mengenai lokasi sebenar kes baru tidak dapat dikawal. Laman web berita seperti Malaysiakini sudah menerbitkan laporan harian dengan maklumat tempat kejadian kes COVID-19 baru tetapi senarai ini tidak disahkan oleh KKM. Perkongsian data yang lebih telus akan membolehkan orang ramai membuat pilihan yang lebih tepat mengenai tempat yang boleh dikunjungi dan tempat untuk dielakkan, terutamanya selepas berakhirnya PKP 2.0.

S4: Apa tren penularan COVID-19 yang dapat diperolehi berdasarkan kajian data MySejahtera?

Pada 19 November 2020, KKM telah mencatatkan 1.7 bilion daftar masuk (log-in) oleh pengguna melalui aplikasi MySejahtera (dengan purata 15 juta daftar masuk setiap hari) termasuk pesakit COVID-19. Tetapi sehingga kini, kita tidak mengetahui sama ada pangkalan data besar ini telah dikaji dengan lebih mendalam untuk mengetahui tren penularan. Sebagai contoh, adakah kadar penularan lebih tinggi di tempat-tempat tertentu seperti gym dan restoran berbanding dengan kedai cermin mata dan salun rambut? Setelah kelompok kilang dikenal pasti, apakah mekanisme penularan yang mungkin menyebabkan penyebaran masyarakat (“community transmission) di kawasan yang terlibat?

Kita perlu mengetahui hasil kajian ini untuk menentukan perniagaan mana yang boleh dibuka semasa PKP. Kita juga memerlukan maklumat ini untuk meningkatkan tahap SOP yang sedia ada untuk mengurangkan kadar penularan. Setakat ini, tidak ada kepastian sama ada data dari aplikasi MySejahtera sedang dikaji dan diproses. Ini adalah salah satu sebab mengapa, sebagai contoh, masih ada ketidakpastian sama ada salun rambut dan kedai cermin mata harus dibenarkan beroperasi semasa MCO 2.0.

S5: Apakah kapasiti dari segi jumlah katil yang tersedia dan kapasiti Unit Rawatan Rapi (ICU) mengikut negeri?

Hingga hari ini, belum terdapat data harian yang diumumkan yang menunjukkan kapasiti katil yang tersedia untuk pesakit COVID-19 serta jumlah kapasiti ICU. Sebaik-baiknya, maklumat ini harus diberikan mengikut negeri supaya terdapat ketelusan mengenai kapasiti hospital yang sedia ada dan langkah yang perlu dilakukan untuk mengatasi kekurangan kapasiti ini. Ini termasuk keperluan untuk menggunakan kemudahan kesihatan pihak swasta untuk menerima pesakit COVID-19 (jika perlu). Polisi di mana pesakit yang tidak ada gejala atau adanya gejala yang ringan untuk berkuarantin di rumah juga harus juga dibincangkan sekiranya adanya kekurangan katil di hospital. Kita hanya mendapat berita tentang kekurangan kapasiti baru-baru ini dengan pengumuman YAB Perdana Menteri bahawa sistem penjagaan kesihatan kita berada pada tahap ‘breaking point’ dari segi kadar penggunaan katil ICU dan bukan ICU. Mengapa maklumat ini tidak diumumkan sebagai sebahagian daripada taklimat dan kenyataan media harian KPK?

S6: Apakah kadar penularan COVID-19 di sekolah ketika ada kelas bersemuka pada tahun 2020?

Salah satu cabaran terbesar yang dihadapi oleh ibu bapa pada tahun 2020 adalah penutupan sekolah akibat daripada COVID 19. Keputusan Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (KPM) untuk menutup semua sekolah rendah dan menengah pada akhir tahun 2020 nampaknya seperti polisi “one size fits all” yang tidak mengambil kira perbezaan kes COVID mengikut daerah dan negeri. Yang lebih penting, KPM belum lagi mengungkapkan data atau analisis mengenai kadar penularan di sekolah.

Maklumat yang diumumkan oleh KKM tidak memberitahu kita bagaimana kanak-kanak mungkin menjangkiti virus ini. Cara sebilangan data yang diumumkan oleh KKM dan dilaporkan dalam berita nampaknya sungguh mengelirukan. Sebagai contoh, dalam kenyataan pada 23 Jun 2020, KPK mengatakan bahawa satu daripada lima COVID-19 atau 20% pesakit di Malaysia berumur 18 tahun ke bawah. Pada 22 Oktober 2020, KPK juga dilaporkan mengatakan bahawa lebih daripada 1,000 kanak-kanak yang bersekolah dijangkiti virus sejak awal gelombang ke-3 dari 20 September hingga 21 Oktober 2020. Pada masa ini, dilaporkan terdapat 587 kes melibatkan murid berusia 7 hingga 12 dan 670 kes melibatkan murid berusia 13 hingga 18 tahun.

Laporan-laporan ini nampaknya memberi gambaran bahawa pelajar ini menjangkiti COVID semasa bersekolah. Ini pasti akan menimbulkan kerisauan di kalangan ibu bapa yang mungkin sudah ada keraguan untuk menghantar anak mereka balik ke sekolah.

Apa maklumat yang dipaparkan berdasarkan kajian dan rujukan aras antarabangsa?

Dalam satu laporan terkini pada 21 Oktober 2020, Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO) telah membuat kesimpulan berikut mengenai penularan COVID di sekolah:

– Terdapat beberapa wabak yang dilaporkan di sekolah sejak awal tahun 2020 dan dalam kebanyakan kes COVID-19 dilaporkan pada kanak-kanak, penularannya berlaku di rumah

– Lebih banyak wabak dilaporkan di sekolah menengah berbanding di sekolah rendah

– Untuk wabak di sekolah, kemungkinan besar virus ini disebarkan oleh orang dewasa daripada kanak-kanak lain.

– Wabak di sekolah hanya tinggi apabila kejadian penularan tempatan / komuniti tinggi.

Kajian WHO yang sama juga mengesyorkan agar sekolah ditutup apabila tidak ada alternatif lain kerana kesan negatif dari penutupan sekolah terutama pada anak-anak yang terpinggir yang mungkin akan berhenti  bersekolah dan yang mungkin akan kehilangan perkhidmatan asas yang disalurkan di sekolah seperti makanan harian dan sokongan kesihatan mental.

Dalam penerbitan pada 14 September 2020, WHO, UNICEF dan UNESCO menulis bahawa “keputusan mengenai penutupan atau pembukaan semula sepenuhnya atau separuh harus diambil pada tahap pentadbiran tempatan, berdasarkan tahap penyebaran SARS-CoV-2 dan penilaian risiko tempatan, serta risiko penularan tempatan selepas pembukaan semula sekolah”.

Sekiranya sekolah dibuka semula untuk kelas bersemuka di negeri PKPP dan PKPB pada 20 Januari 2021, KKM dan KPM harus mengumumkan data secara terbuka untuk meyakinkan ibu bapa bahawa ianya selamat untuk menghantar anak mereka ke sekolah.

S7: Apakan situasi perumahan bagi pekerja asing dalam industri keselamatan, pembuatan dan pembinaan?

Salah satu saluran penularan utama untuk virus COVID-19 adalah asrama yang menempatkan pekerja asing yang bekerja sebagai pengawal keselamatan, pekerja binaan dan pekerja kilang. Sebilangan pengeluar sarung tangan dengan jumlah kes COVID-19 yang tinggi diminta untuk ditutup ‘secara berperingkat’ tetapi dibenarkan untuk dibuka semula selepas saringan dilaksanakan. Tetapi sejauh ini, belum ada polisi yang konkrit yang telah diumumkan oleh Kementerian Kesihatan atau Kementerian Sumber Manusia untuk memaksa majikan menyediakan tempat tinggal yang kurang sempit untuk sektor-sektor dengan jumlah kes COVID-19 yang tinggi. Tiada polisi saringan yang koheren yang diumumkan untuk sektor pembinaan dan pembuatan. Dasar seperti HARUS itu dibuat untuk memastikan kadar penularan COVID-19 adalah rendah, terutamanya setelah berakhirnya PKP 2.0. Tanpa dasar saringan dan penginapan yang efektif untuk pekerja asing ini, kadar jangkitan COVID-19 mungkin tidak dapat dikawal setelah berakhirnya PKP 2.0.

S8: Apakah Nilai Rt mengikut negeri dan mengapa angka ini tidak diumumkan?

KKM menerbitkan nilai Rt harian untuk seluruh negara di laman web COVID-19 MOH. Angka ini pada hari ini adalah 1.17. Angka melebihi 1 bermaksud jumlah kes dijangka bertambah dan angka kurang dari 1 bermaksud virus terkawal dan jumlah kes dijangka akan berkurangan. KKM juga patut menerbitkan nilai harian Rt untuk setiap negeri di Malaysia supaya ia lebih jelas mana negeri yang lebih baik dan yang kurang berkesan dari sudut kawalan jangkitan COVID-19. Nilai Rt mengikut negeri juga harus digunakan sebagai petunjuk untuk menentukan masa untuk menukar status sebuah negeri dari PKP ke PKPB atau PKPP.

Untuk polisi yang lebih bersasar, nilai Rt patut diumumkan untuk setiap kawasan ataupun daerah di sebuah negeri. Nilai Rt mengikut negeri jelas wujud memandangkan rujukan KP Noor Hisham dalam satu facebook post beliau pada 20 Disember 2020. Mengapa maklumat ini tidak diumumkan secara terbuka?

S9: Bagaimana kerajaan pusat bekerjasama dengan kerajaan negeri masing-masing untuk memerangi COVID-19?

Setakat hari ini, usaha untuk memerangi COVID-19 dilihat sebagai sesuatu yang dikawal dan ditentukan oleh kepimpinan kerajaan Persekutuan dan KKM, khususnya KP Kesihatan. Tidak banyak penyelarasan dilihat di antara kerajaan pusat dan kerajaan negeri masing-masing untuk bergabung dalam semangat kerjasama dan solidariti. Mantan Menteri Kesihatan, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, yang juga ketua “taskforce” Selangor untuk COVID-19 (STFC) secara terbuka telah meminta lebih banyak perkongsian data dan kerjasama dengan Kementerian Kesihatan tetapi setakat ini, seruan beliau tidak didengar. Mentaliti ‘silo’ inilah yang telah menghalang Malaysia daripada menggunakan pendekatan ‘seluruh kerajaan, seluruh masyarakat’ (“whole of government, whole of society”) untuk memerangi penularan wabak ini. Adakah mentaliti seperti ini akan berubah memandangkan kenaikan jumlah kes COVID yang begitu ketara, terutamanya di negeri Selangor?

S10: Apa yang sedang kita lakukan sekarang yang berbeza berbanding Mac 2020?

Soalan terakhir saya adalah mudah. Dengan pengalaman selama sembilan bulan yang lalu dalam menangani penularan wabak COVID-19, apakah yang telah kita pelajari dan apakah yang kita akan lakukan untuk berbeza PKP 2.0 berbanding PKP yang pertama? Adakah rancangan yang telah diumumkan memberi keyakinan kepada orang ramai bahawa KKM dan kerajaan Malaysia mampu menurunkan kadar jangkitan COVID-19 tanpa meruntuhkan ekonomi?

Terdapat beberapa petunjuk bahawa kerajaan ini tidak belajar dari pengalaman selama 9 bulan yang lalu. SOP minit terakhir yang dikeluarkan SELEPAS PKP 2.0 bermula, U-turn untuk sektor yang boleh dibuka misalnya sektor pembuatan automotif dan kedai cermin mata serta ketidakpastian mengenai pembukaan semula sekolah hanyalah beberapa contoh kegagalan kerajaan ini untuk membuat persiapan PKP 2.0. Seperti kata pepatah, “jika kita gagal untuk merancang, kita merancang untuk gagal” (“If we fail to plan, to plan to fail”)

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 18th of January, 2021

10 Questions for Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham, Director General of Health

Two days ago, on the 16th of January, 2021, Malaysia reached a new high of 4,029 COVID-19 cases. We have just started the first week of the second Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) and this will go on for two weeks from the 13th of January until the 26th of January. By contrast, we reached a high of 235 COVID-19 cases on the 26th of March, 2020, during the first MCO. Credit should be given to the leadership of Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham, the Director General (DG) of Health, and the public health front liners for their tireless efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. But nine months after the first MCO, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered in our fight against the COVID pandemic. I hope that DG Noor Hisham can provide convincing answers to the following 10 questions in order to assure the public that the government has a comprehensive plan to control this pandemic.

Q1: What is the total number of daily COVID-19 tests done by the Ministry of Health (MoH)  and what is the daily % of positive cases?

The daily focus has primarily been on the total number of new daily COVID-19 cases. While this number is important, we also need to know the total number of tests that are being done on a daily basis and the % of positive cases. This will give us an indication of (i) our testing capacity and (ii) the daily infection rate. According to a report in October 2020, Malaysia’s daily testing capacity then was approximately 54,000 but the average number of tests done was less than half this number.[1] If the daily testing capacity cannot be reached because of human resource shortages, the private sector (which is already doing their own tests) can be roped in to address this gap. Daily testing by the state will also be able to show shortages in the number of test kits in places like Sabah, for example.

Knowing the daily infection rate is also a useful indicator of infection trends moving forward. There have been many calls for the DG to make known the daily testing figures but until now, for reasons unknown, this figure has not been disclosed on a daily basis.



Q2: What is the number of contact tracers used by MoH? What measures have been put in place to address shortfalls in contact tracers?

As the number of daily cases spiked to more than 1000, it was not surprising that the contact tracers would be overwhelmed. Over the past few weeks, reports have surfaced on how some families who have tested positive for COVID-19 had to wait for days before someone from MoH contacted them. Earlier this month, my colleague and former Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Lee Boon Chye, asked for an additional 10,000 contact tracers to be hired on a temporary basis to deal with the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.[2] There has been little disclosure on the number of contact tracers used by the MoH and even less discussion on the need to hire more contact tracers by the government. Without a proper contact tracing infrastructure, our ability to contain this pandemic even after the end of MCO 2.0 will remain in question.


Q3: Can more accurate location information about COVID-19 cases be disclosed publicly?

To date, the MoH has been very reluctant to provide more accurate location information for new COVID-19 cases. According to official reasoning, the government doesn’t want to cause a public panic in places where positive COVID-19 cases have been identified. But at the same time, the DG has been asking the public to avoid crowded places. A more transparent and effective strategy would be for more accurate location information to be provided to the public so that they can stay informed. Without any official confirmation, unnecessary speculation about the exact location of new cases cannot be prevented. New sites such as Malaysiakini already provide a daily report of places with new COVID-19 cases but this list is not verified by MoH.[3] More transparent sharing of data would enable the public to make more well-informed choices about where to visit and where not to visit, especially after the end of MCO 2.0.



Q4: What transmission trends can be analysed based on MySejahtera data?

As of the 19th of November, 2020, the Ministry of Health has recorded 1.7 billion check-ins by users via the MySejahtera app (with an average of 15m daily check-ins) including for those COViD 19 positive patients.[4] But until now, we are not aware of whether this massive database has been analysed for transmission trends. For example, are the transmission rates higher in certain places such as gyms and restaurants compared to optometrists and hair salons? Once a factory cluster has been identified, what transmission mechanisms are most likely to cause community spread in the affected area?

We need to know this analysis in order to determine which businesses should be allowed to open during an MCO. We also need this information in order to improve and enhance our existing SOPs to reduce transmission rates. As of now, nobody is quite sure, if and how the data from the MySejahtera application is being analysed and processed. This is one of the reasons why, for example, there is still uncertainty as to whether hair salons and optometrists should be allowed to operate during MCO 2.0.


Q5: What is the capacity in terms of the number of beds available and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity by the state?

To date, there has not been daily data released to show the capacity of beds available for COVID-19 patients as well as the total ICU capacity. Ideally, this information should be given by the state so that there is public transparency over existing hospital capacity and what additional steps need to be done to address shortages in this capacity. This would include the need to rope in private healthcare facilities to take in COVID-19 patients (if necessary). The possibility of asking patients with no or mild symptoms to stay at home to quarantine should also be discussed in light of shortages in hospital beds. We only hear about the lack of capacity recently with the Prime Minister’s announcement that our healthcare system is at a ‘breaking point’ in terms of ICU and non-ICU bed utilisation rates.[5] Why isn’t this information included as part and parcel of the DG’s COVID-19 briefing and press statement?


Q6: What were the COVID-19 transmission rates in schools when there was face to face classes in 2020?

One of the biggest challenges faced by parents in 2020 is the shutting down of schools due to COVID 19. The decision by the Ministry of Education to shut down all primary and secondary schools until the end of 2020 seems like a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that does not take into account variances in COVID cases across districts and states. As important, MOE has not disclosed any data or analysis with regards to transmission rates within schools.

The information which has been released by the Ministry of Health tells us nothing about how children of a school going age may have gotten the virus. Indeed, the manner in which some data has been released by MOH and reported in the news seems misleading. For example, in a statement on the 23rd of June 2020, the DG of Health said that one of five COVID 19 or 20% of patients in Malaysia is 18 years and below.[6] On the 22nd of October, the DG was reported to have said that more than 1,000 school-going children were infected with the virus since the start of the 3rd wave from the 20th of September to the 21st of October. During this time, it was reported that 587 cases involved pupils aged from 7 to 12, and 670 cases involved students aged 13 to 18.[7]

These reports seem to give the indication that the students contacted COVID while attending school. This will inevitably stoke unnecessary fears among parents who may have 2nd thoughts about sending their children to school.

What do international studies and benchmarks tell us?

In an update date 21st of October 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) made the following conclusions among COVID transmissions in schools:[8]

  • There were few outbreaks reported in schools since early 2020 and in most COVID 19 cases reported in children, the transmission occurred at home
  • More outbreaks were reported in secondary/high schools than in primary/elementary schools
  • In school outbreaks, it was more likely that the virus was introduced by adults rather than by other children.
  • School outbreaks were only high when the incidence of local / community transmission was high.

The same WHO study also recommended that schools be closed when there is no other alternative because of the negative effects of school closure especially on marginalized children who may drop out of school and who may be deprived of school-based services such as school meals and mental health support.

In a publication on the 14th of September, the WHO, UNICEF, and UNESCO wrote that “decisions on full or partial closure or reopening should be taken at a local administrative level, based on the local level of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the local risk assessment, as well as how much the reopening of education settings might increase transmission in the community”.[9]

If schools are to re-open for face to face classes in the RMCO and CMCO states on the 20th of January, 2021, MoH and MOE have to disclose data publicly in order to convince parents that it is safe to send their kids to schools.


Q7: Housing situation for foreign workers in the security, manufacturing and construction industries?

One of the main transmission channels for the COVID-19 virus has undoubtedly been dormitories which house foreign workers who work as security guards, construction workers and factory workers. Some of the glove manufacturers with a high number of COVID-19 cases were asked to shut down ‘in stages’ but were allowed to re-open after their workers were tested. But thus far, there has not been any concrete policy announced by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Human Resources to force employers to provide for less cramped accommodation for the sectors with the most number of COVID-19 cases. There has also not been a coherent testing policy announced for the construction and manufacturing sectors. There MUST be such policies put in place in order to keep the COVID 19 transmission rates low, especially after MCO 2.0 is lifted. Without proper testing and accommodation policies for these foreign workers, it is less likely that COVID-19 infection rates can be controlled after the lifting of MCO 2.0


Q8: What is the Rt Value by state and why isn’t this figure publicly available?

MoH publishes the daily Rt value for the entire country on its COVID-19 website.[10] This figure currently stands at 1.17. Any value above 1 means that the number of cases is expected to grow and any number less than 1 means that the virus is under control and the number of cases can be expected to decrease over time. It would also be useful for MoH to publish daily Rt values for each state in Malaysia so that there is more clarity on which states are performing better and which states are doing worse from an infection control standpoint. The Rt value by the state can and should also be used as an indicator on when an MCO should be declared for a state and when it should be changed to a CMCO or an RMCO. For an even more targeted approach, the Rt value can be used for individual areas within a state. The Rt value by the state clearly exists since DG Noor Hisham has referred to it in one of his Facebook posts on the 20th of December, 2020.[11] Why not disclose the state by state figures on a regular basis?


Q9: How has the federal government worked with the respective state governments to fight COVID-19?

Thus far, the fight against COVID-19 seems to be one that is controlled and dictated mostly by the Federal government with the Ministry of Health, specifically the DG, taking the lead. There has been little coordination between the federal government and the respective state governments to join forces in the spirit of cooperation and solidarity. The former Minister of Health, Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad, who is also the chair of the Selangor Taskforce on COVID-19 (STFC) has publicly called for more data sharing and cooperation with the Ministry of Health but so far, his calls have gone unheeded.[12] It is this kind of ‘silo’ mentality that has prevented Malaysia from using a ‘whole-of-government, whole-of-society’ approach to battle this pandemic. Will this kind of mentality change now that the number of COVID cases have spiked significantly, especially in the state of Selangor?

Q10: What are we doing differently now compared to March 2020?

My last and final question is simple. With nine months of experience in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, what lessons have we learned and what are we doing differently in MCO 2.0 compared to the first MCO? Do the plans which have been announced give the public confidence that the Ministry of Health and also the rest of the government are capable of bringing down the COVID-19 numbers without collapsing the economy?

There is little indication that this government has learned from the experiences of the past 9 months. Last minute SOPs issued AFTER the start of MCO 2.0, U-turns on which sectors can open e.g. the automotive manufacturing sector[13] and optometrists[14] and uncertainty over school re-opening[15] are just some examples of the failure of this government to prepare for MCO 2.0. As the adage goes, “if we fail to plan, we plan to fail”.


[1] https://codeblue.galencentre.org/2020/10/16/malaysia-using-half-of-covid-19-testing-capacity/

[2] https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/01/09/heres-how-you-can-avoid-another-lockdown-dr-lee-tells-putrajaya/

[3] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/559180

[4] https://kpkesihatan.com/2020/11/19/kenyataan-akhbar-kpk-19-november-2020-situasi-semasa-jangkitan-penyakit-coronavirus-2019-covid-19-di-malaysia/

[5] https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/pm-says-malaysias-healthcare-system-breaking-point

[6] https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/22/covid-19-over-1000-school-going-children-infected-since-outbreak-of-third-wave-says-health-dg

[7] https://kpkesihatan.com/2020/06/23/kenyataan-akhbar-kpk-23-jun-2020-situasi-semasa-jangkitan-penyakit-coronavirus-2019-covid-19-di-malaysia/?fbclid=IwAR1Lj9AYKHMKsHaM5HLR3IA6DDEhECrCOitJs8eUMpfH6hDz5xf-7px8e0Y

[8] https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/risk-comms-updates/update39-covid-and-schools.pdf?sfvrsn=320db233_2

[9] https://www.unicef.org/media/82736/file/Considerations-for-school-related-public-health%20measures-in-COVID-19-2020.pdf

[10] https://www.facebook.com/DGHisham/posts/3936072093083316

[11] http://covid-19.moh.gov.my/kajian-dan-penyelidikan/nilai-r-malaysia

[12] https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/01/11/not-all-students-need-to-go-back-to-school-says-group/

[13] https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/01/15/problem-with-your-glasses-contact-lens-dont-fret-ft-minister-says-optometri/1940744

[14] https://paultan.org/2021/01/16/mco-2-0-miti-allows-all-car-factories-to-operate-again/

[15] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/547265

Media Statement by Dr Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and DAP Assistant Political Education Director, on the 11th of January, 2021

Lack of consistent policies, weak political leadership and an unstable government key factors in reducing investor confidence in Malaysia under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government

The response by EUROCHAM Malaysia CEO, Sven Schneider,[1] to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul’s statement on healthy approved Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Domestic Direct Investment (DDI) in Malaysia[2] has gone ‘viral’ via social media.

I do believe that the problem identified by Mr. Schneider – not being able to seek an appointment with the Finance Minister – is part of a larger problem currently faced by long term investors and companies in Malaysia. He is expressing part of the frustration which many companies are feeling because of the lack of consistent policies by the PN government. The foreign chambers of commerce here in Malaysia value a close and cooperative working relationship with the government of the day. I very much found this to be the case when I was the Deputy Minister of MITI from July 2018 to February 2020. There will always be issues that these chambers will raise to the government on behalf of their member companies but seldom will these issues be escalated into the public realm. But under the PN government, the lack of consistent policy has made the already challenging business climate even worse, including for these foreign Multinational Companies (MNCs).

The hastily implemented first Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020 which caused Malaysia’s 2nd quarter 2020 GDP to plummet by 17.1%, the haphazard entry ban on all foreign nationals from countries with more than 150,000 cases, and the current uncertainties over what MCO 2.0 will entail are all but examples of the lack of direction and consistency in policy making under the PN government.

These issues matter much more than before because they will inevitably affect the ability of the approved investments referred to by Tengku Zafrul to be realized in the future. Many of these investment decisions, whether by foreign or domestic investors, would have been planned in the past, probably before the start of the COVID crisis. Companies that have already invested in Malaysia are the best spokespersons to potential investors in the country. If these companies do not have confidence in the current investment and policy climate, it is likely that potential investors will also be discouraged from realizing their investments in Malaysia in the future.

The weak political leadership of the current PN government stems from the lack of a coherent governing narrative among the parties in power. As much as one would like to criticize the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, there was at least a clear governing narrative – improving governance and transparency, reducing corruption and red tape, and encouraging a more competitive economic landscape. At least PH had a manifesto which we tried our level best to implement. But the current PN government has no governing philosophy or purpose other than to continue to stay in power despite its shaky parliamentary majority.

The effects of this weak political leadership can be felt among the business community. There does not seem to be a coordinated government effort in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic. The Health Minister seems to have fully delegated the COVID response to the Director General of the Ministry of Health (MOH). The Minister of Human Resources does not seem to be able to come up with a coherent testing policy among the foreign workers in the various sectors of the economy. The Ministry of Education has adopted a one-size-fits-all education policy by closing schools even in green zones with very few COVID cases. The result of this weak political leadership is that the business community has slowly by surely lost confidence in this government’s ability to manage the COVID crisis. This is why the American Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia (AMCHAM) has called for the continued operations of the business sector especially for the Electronics and Electrical (E&E) sector if there is to be an MCO 2.0.[1] EUROCHAM has also expressed its concern over the possibility of a full lockdown in MCO 2.0.[2] On the local front, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), the SME Association of Malaysia, and the Tourism Agencies Association of Malaysia (MATA) have also expressed similar concerns over the economic impact of an MCO 2.0.[3]

Finally, it cannot be denied that one of the major concerns investors in Malaysia are currently facing is the continued political instability and uncertainty. The latest situation is that the PN government only has the support of 110 MPs with the news of the withdrawal of support for the government by the UMNO Member of Parliament for Machang. It is ironic that the MITI Minister, Azmin Ali, whose Ministry is in charge of attracting FDI to Malaysia, was one of the instigators of the Sheraton move which caused the formation of this unstable PN government. The Education Minister, Radzi Jidin, who was heard lamenting about foreign investor confidence in Malaysia during the final PH meeting which included BERSATU, in February 2020, should ask himself if this confidence has increased under the PN government. Ahmad Maslan, the secretary general of UMNO and BN, was recently heard in an interview saying that the slim parliamentary majority of the PN will decrease investor confidence in the country. But yet, he is also insisting on an early general election despite the spike in the number of COVID 19 cases in the country.

The questions surrounding FDI and DDI that were raised by the EUROCHAM Malaysia CEO is but the tip of the iceberg. Do not expect investor confidence to return to Malaysia anytime soon under this PN government. Any future government will have a very challenging time making up for the significant ground that has been lost under this PN government.



[1] https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6753165154059464704/


[2] https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/govt-understands-importance-fdi-%E2%80%94-tengku-zafrul

[3] https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/01/08/amcham-calls-malaysian-government-to-allow-businesses-to-operate-full-capac/1938593

[4] https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/01/08/second-strict-lockdown-can-cause-economy-to-collapse-warns-eurocham-malaysi/1938691

[5] https://focusmalaysia.my/mainstream/a-second-mco-may-collapse-the-economy-says-business-leaders/