KUALA LUMPUR -- The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has called for more predictability and better coordination in the Malaysian government’s current pandemic response to ensure Malaysia’s recovery from the pandemic, in light of the announcement made Monday by the Prime Minister expanding the current Movement Control Order (MCO) to the whole of the country from May 12th to June 7th.

IDEAS noted that there seems to be a lack of leadership in decision making, whereby announcements on the MCO are being made last minute and in some instances, reversing previously announced measures.

There also needs to be better coordination between the ministries, as some announcements over the MCO often seem to be conflicting.

As noted by IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh, “These last minute decisions are detrimental to the planning process of businesses, as business owners including retailers and SMEs need to prepare in advance their logistics, human resources and cashflows. If better planning had been done, at least expectations could be better set by business leaders.”

“More transparency in how the government makes its decisions will increase public trust. At the moment, the latter remains low. For example, there was little communication regarding the Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system to the public, and the moment it was announced these respective locations were ordered shut
the very next day.

Although it is positive that data is being used to guide public decisions, we would recommend better public education of such programmes and decision-making Processes.”

IDEAS had previously recommended the adoption of a Pandemic Severity Index as proposed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), so that there could be a scale of measurements that the public is aware of which would determine when it would be time to scale restrictions up or down according to the severity of the pandemic situation.

A tiered approach to the pandemic situation and management would mean that decisions are data-driven, independent, and not arbitrary as is currently the case. At present, the general perception is that decisions are being made on an ad-hoc basis by authorities.

Yeoh states, “IDEAS calls for a collective and multi-partisan approach to Malaysia’s pandemic management, including as we’ve previously suggested, better coordination between the federal authorities and all state and local governments. Predictability is key for economic recovery, which the country desperately needs today.

According to data released by Bank Negara Malaysia today, our economy contracted by 0.5% this first quarter. While this is an obvious improvement from the 3.4% contraction seen in the last quarter, there is undoubtedly still a tremendous amount of work for our economy to stabilise and truly recover rapidly in the coming years.”