Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Time for emergency committee to submit report, not pander to ‘disastrous’ moves, says Chandra

He says there should be no political debate to distract from concerns about public health and economic well-being.

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Prominent social critic Chandra Muzaffar says Malaysians cannot afford any talk of changing the government at a time when the country’s focus should be on recovering from the pandemic through the massive vaccination programme.

He said this was more so as he felt the present government under Muhyiddin Yassin had done relatively well in mitigating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic through a slew of financial and public health measures.

Chandra said like any government, the current administration was also learning from mistakes throughout the unprecedented global crisis.

“But a fair and balanced evaluation of the government’s performance would conclude that there is no rational basis to seek the overthrow of the present government.

“In a situation like ours, one does not change horses mid-stream. The repercussions of any such move could be disastrous for the country, especially if one takes into account the larger picture,” Chandra told MalaysiaNow, commenting on renewed calls from opposition politicians to form a new government in the wake of a series of audiences granted to several political leaders.

Yesterday, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah met Muhyiddin, followed by an audience granted to Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim and former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a series of meetings which Istana Negara said was to obtain feedback on the efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic implemented since the state of emergency was declared early this year.

The move sparked a flurry of speculation from some PH politicians that the Agong was keen to replace Muhyiddin’s government, which they said had failed to contain the virus.

Chandra said there was a need to shun any kind of political debate which steers away from concerns about public health and economic well-being.

He said instead, the independent committee to advise the Agong throughout the virus emergency should submit a comprehensive report on how the government and society have managed the pandemic so far.

“The report should be presented to Parliament two or three weeks weeks before the scheduled end of the emergency on Aug 1, 2021,” he added.

In February, the Agong approved 19 names including from opposition parties to make up the Independent Special Committee to give advice on the state of the pandemic during the emergency.

The committee is chaired by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria.

Chandra said the committee’s report should be discussed by both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara and also made public.

“The king would then act on the advice of the government. Such an approach would not only do justice to the people’s sentiments but also incorporate input from both houses of Parliament.

“This is a more mature way of handling the pandemic and its consequences than yielding to vested interests from the government or the opposition,” he said.

He warned against voices calling for a change of government, saying the focus should be “to return to normal in most spheres”.

“To achieve this goal we should all work together as one family. There should be complete cohesion and unity of purpose,” said Chandra.

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