By Malaysian Health Coalition

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The highest priority of a government is to protect the health and safety of our citizens. Therefore, the Malaysian Health Coalition urges all political leaders to keep the Rakyat’s health and welfare at the very top of their priorities. Political transitions must not affect our COVID-19 response, vaccination program and routine healthcare services.

We trust the wisdom and judgment of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint a new Prime Minister with a strong Cabinet as soon as practicable. For any new Cabinet, these are three important lessons from the political transition in March 2020:

1. Be transparent
The new Prime Minister and the Cabinet must acknowledge the ground situation and not hide the truth from the Rakyat. Sharing all pandemic data with high transparency will improve trust, and enable the Rakyat to make more accurate risk assessments for themselves and their families. Data transparency aids in better allocation of resources.

2. Make evidence-based health decisions
We urge the government to follow scientific evidence as our understanding of Covid-19 evolves and improves. We also urge the government to publicize their evidence, methodology and rationale for making any important decisions, not merely announcing the decisions in a top-down manner. We urge the government to balance speed with sufficient understanding of the ground situation. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) must be evidence-based, easy-to-understand and enforced without double standards.

3. Coordinate between State Governments, Ministries and Civil Societies
Throughout this pandemic, we have seen that the Health Ministry alone is not enough for us to beat Covid-19. Therefore, we need a strong and coordinated effort between the Federal and State Governments (perhaps through a working Federal-State Council), to ensure effective execution and no overlaps. There must also be strong coordination between all Ministries, especially the health, economic, security and welfare agencies. We also need an all-of-society effort against COVID-19, which requires proactive coordination with civil societies and empowering communities.

To accomplish all that, we urge that the new Cabinet be led by competent professionals, instead of career politicians. In the medium-term, the new government must balance health with the recovery of our economy, democracy and society. In health terms, the new government must provide adequate financial, political and moral support to all healthcare frontliners.

The Rakyat and our health system are increasingly exhausted. Politicians must be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We demand that all political leaders and the new Government of Malaysia to prioritise the Rakyat and our health. 

Malaysian Health Coalition (Full Signature List)