Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today called for a full lockdown to be enforced across the country, adding however that the government should bear the costs including for ensuring enough food for the people.
In a blog post today, he said it had been the right move to reinstate the current movement control order (MCO), which is expected to remain in place until June 7.
“But now we are much less strict in doing so,” he said, comparing it to the first round of MCO implemented in March last year.
“We need to confine people to their homes. There should not be any excuse for crowds to form. Staying apart must be applied even among the frontliners.”
However he acknowledged that keeping people at home would mean “no money and no food”.
“The government must accept the responsibility of keeping people alive. For food there should be public kitchens where food is prepared, packaged and delivered to homes.”
Adding that home quarantine should continue for at least a month, he said the police and military “should be very strict in ensuring the people don’t come out to shop or do anything”.
“The cost must be borne by the government. It will be costly but the government must do it.”
Mahathir said when Covid-19 was first detected in Malaysia, the entire country was put under total movement control.
“After one month we congratulated each other on the success of the measure. New cases numbered in two digits and deaths did not exceed 10.
“We became over-confident. We believed we know how to manage the pandemic. And we held elections in Sabah. And since then, we have seen increases in the number of cases to frightening levels. At the peak there were more than 6,000 a day,” he said, referring to yesterday’s Covid-19 numbers which saw 6,075 infections across the country and 46 deaths.
He also cited the permission given for Ramadan bazaars to open, saying the government “must know that the crowds would be uncontrollable”.
“And sure enough, as soon as the bazaars opened, the cases increased. From under 2,000, the daily new cases shot up to more than 4,000 a day. Panicked, the bazaars were suddenly banned.”
He called this a “good example of flip-flop”, saying traders and hawkers had lost all the money they spent on ingredients for the month.
“Whatever may be the immediate cause of the spike, the urgent need is still to reduce the number of new cases,” he said.
“We are definitely going to be short of beds, apparatus and even oxygen if the number doubles.”