By Projek Bangsa Malaysia

KUALA LUMUR, Malaysia--When India faced the worst days of its Covid-19 crisis, the entire world knew.

The transparency regarding just how bad the problem was helped India ensure that its government took the matter seriously, and got the help it needed. This is how India recovered from the near total collapse of its healthcare system.

The first step towards solving a problem is admitting we have one.

In Malaysia, our authorities have not admitted that we have a problem. A decades old draconian culture of repressing the truth is now putting millions of Malaysian lives at risk.

The government has consistently silenced the voices of civil servants, including medical frontliners, and prevented them from telling the truth about how our system is on the brink of collapse.

Where once medical frontliners maintained their silence for fear of losing their jobs, many are now sacrificing their own job security in order to speak up, before more lives are lost due to a complete collapse of our healthcare system.

More and more stories are now emerging on how government Covid-19 hospitals are completely overwhelmed, and are becoming unable to give Malaysians with Covid-19 the healthcare that they need.

Resources are insufficient, and medical staff are overworked and exhausted. Reports are emerging of insufficient oxygen and insufficient beds, of senior staff breaking down, of CPR having to be performed on the floor, and of patients waiting outside Emergency Departments unable to breathe.
Meanwhile, the government continues to put its head in its sand, and acts like there is nothing wrong.

Reports on the ground suggest that MITI letters are now being issued to more and more companies allowing them to reopen, while there is again zero transparency on which factories are allowed to continue operating and why.

“Lockdown” measures seem to target the wrong people, while allowing business interests to continue in order to protect profits. Are our constantly changing SOPs truly based on data and science? The reasoning behind these decisions must be transparent for all to see.

There seems to be zero urgency regarding the fact that we have days where daily testing numbers go down, while the number of cases go up. The entire government seems to have adopted a nonchalant attitude even as medical frontliners are now using terms like "total collapse" to describe the state of our healthcare system.
We need to be ringing the alarm bells all over the country. We need the country to be at red alert. We need to stop being distracted by useless politicking, and for once, be truly united in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country is facing what may very well be the worst, most life-threatening crisis we have ever faced in our existence, and we need the government to stop hiding the truth about it, and to start treating this like the crisis that it is.

If it is true that the government declared an Emergency to combat Covid-19 instead of to protect political interests, then the government should start acting as if this is indeed an emergency situation.

We call upon the government to immediately:

1. Acknowledge the problem and be transparent about the situation on the ground. Policy attention should be on solving the problem, and medical frontliners must be allowed to speak up on the situation they are facing with no repercussions from the authorities.

2. Engage with the private healthcare sector to ease the burden on government hospitals. Engage constructively and the use of Emergency rules can be considered.
3. Increase public healthcare spending in the short and long-term, so that longer term healthcare capacity can be increased, and problems like contract doctors can be solved. Increased funding must be accompanied by appropriate reforms in the organisational structure of the Health Ministry.
This joint statement is initiated by
Projek #BangsaMalaysia
[a joint initiative by Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)]