Set up Covid-19 ‘war room’ to streamline efforts, Putrajaya told

Jerry Choong
Government health workers attend to members of the public at the Kuala Lumpur Health Clinic March 24, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretariat urged the government to immediately establish a central Covid-19 action centre chaired by the prime minister to better coordinate the country’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

It said any committees established to address Covid-19 should be monitored by this “war room,” which will ensure any decision these committees make can be effectively implemented since it has the prime minister's approval.

“Aside from problems of jurisdictional overlap, the other main problem is where the focus and priorities of the government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin lie. Should it be economy or health?” said the secretariat in a statement.

It stressed that both aspects are important and should be pursued in depth, demanding careful planning and thorough solutions. Merely forming another committee would only add to unnecessary and meaningless bureaucratic burden in which nothing can be achieved if the prime minister is seen as lacking the political will to resolve the problems.

“The council views seriously the announcement by the senior minister for international trade and industry on the establishment of a special Cabinet committee to augment the stimulus package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“In our view, the issue of assisting SMEs should have been analysed even before the prime minister's announcement on March 27, given their vital role in the national economy where seven out of 10 jobs are provided by SMEs and over one-third of the national GDP is generated by their activities,” said the council.

It reiterated the earlier stance of urging for an increase in wage subsidies by at least twice the amount of the current RM5.9 billion to nearly RM12 billion, so as to pay the minimum RM1,200 salaries for 3.3 million workers over a three-month period.

“At the same time, the council finds that several recent announcements and actions taken appear to be uncoordinated among the Cabinet ministers, including the price of face masks, of NGOs delivering aid on the field, on sanitisation and decontamination in public areas, yet alone the issue of the SME stimulus package.

“The effects of the extended movement control order on the nation's economic ecosystem is clearly evident. Therefore any order or decision must be made on a clear basis, so as to not aggravate things beyond what they already are now, and a war room's formation will avoid both time-wasting and ensure coordination within the government,” said the PH secretariat.

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