By Frank A.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--While I loathe to point the finger at any one party or individual for the over 13,000 COVID-9 deaths in Malaysia to date, last night’s heavy handed response by the police has left me with no choice.

“More than 30 participants of a memorial for those who had lost their lives to Covid-19, organised by Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (SSR), were arrested this evening at Dataran Merdeka.

“A total of 17 male and 14 female participants in the candlelight vigil were arrested and sent to the Dang Wangi district police headquarters (IPD),” FMT reported.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is a never before seen crisis , some countries have managed better than others and Malaysia especially since the Sabah state election was called for no good reason and resulted in  a massive spike of new infections that eventually engulfed the whole country.

“Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday (Nov 18) admitted that the Sabah state elections in September was the cause of the latest wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.”

Muhyiddin Yassin

Simply put the disgraced former prime minister is the single most responsible individual for the current situation Malaysia is facing, from the Sheraton move which saw the mandate stolen from the legitimately elected Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, to the poor leadership, total mismanagement of the economy and of course the floundering of the COVID-19 response.

He is a man whose legitimacy was never tested, who had no claim to power but greedily and shortsightedly seized it, and quickly found himself clueless and unable to lead. Unending lockdowns, double standards and a useless bloated cabinet were nothing compared to his blatant defiance of the Agong and shuttering parliament.

This self-styled “Abah '' threatened to “rotan” the Rakyat for not following SOPs and other anti-Covid measures but said nothing when his own political allies repeatedly flouted the very same rules. Double standard became the order of the day and when the people flew white flags in a desperate attempt to seek aid, he instead asked them to fly his party flags instead.

While the commander of any government or organisation should take the bulk of the blame for failure, let us not forget some of the other kitchen utensils that assisted him in his drive towards turning Malaysia into a failed state.

Ismail Sabri

This controversial politician better known for an unfortunate incident involving turtle eggs and a failed attempt at a racist shopping mall was made deputy prime minister in the final days of the Muhyiddin regime. Now it would seem that efforts are being made to appoint him as Prime Minister.

“Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said individuals returning from Sabah would not be required to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine.”

Yes this individual is guilty of helping the virus rather than the Rakyat, who not only did not ask for a state election but kept shouting at the top of their lungs for measures to be taken against the unfolding disaster in Sabah from spreading to the rest of the country.

Of course he is most famous for the rapid changes and flip-flops to the SOPs sometime even within the same day, leaving the Rakyat frustrated, confused and angry and worse yet exposing them to the risk of infection and the risk of being fined or jailed as the frontliners at road blocks themselves were unable to keep up with his contradictory orders.

And this very same individual has been set as most likely to be prime minister. This is the best the powers that be can come up with ladies and gentlemen. What really will this failed minister from a failed government do that will be different from his previous stint? Who knows maybe he will prove to be a miracle worker.

Adham Baba

While his cabinet colleague Khairy Jamaluddin can handle the press and is able to field even the most difficult questions and to date has actually conducted a successful vaccination campaign, can we say the same for our Health Minister who has become the butt of jokes not just in Malaysia but even internationally?

It started innocently enough, drink warm water to deal with COVID-19 he said, then it became a conference with 500 countries and finally the infamous “Spanish Fly” comment. Instead of leading the charge the minister has spent most of the past 17 months seemingly under a gag order, even his own political allies are apprehensive everytime he opens his mouth.

Imagine that something as important as the worst health crisis in living memory has not been considered serious enough to appoint a minister of outstanding caliber to deal with the situation. Instead Muhyiddin saw fit to maintain this individual, devoid of talent, ideas or even common sense in his cabinet.

Noor Hisham Abdullah

Now this is truly a sad case. Typically considered an outstanding civil servant and a professional medical health expert, Noor Hisham showed us what being too close to an illegitimate government can do to an individual. Initially he was slated to be the “face” of the government’s COVID-19 response and spoke at daily press conferences instead of the Health Minister.

But his shine quickly tarnished, he seemed to be more and more beholden to his political masters, saying what they wanted him to say and doing what they wanted him to do, finally drawing flak from the public as the number of infections and deaths spiraled out of control.

“Technical decisions on health crises should come only from the health director-general, something that current post holder Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has failed to deliver on as Malaysia continues its struggle with Covid-19.

“Former health DG Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Ismail Merican said it is perplexing that Dr Noor Hisham has allowed several controversial decisions despite infections soaring to record highs.”

Despite not being a politician, we have to note that he was director-general of the ministry since 2013, nearly seven years from the time of his appointment to the start of the pandemic. What had he done to prepare the country for the health crisis, what did he do as the situation spiraled out of control and what will he do now with 20,000 cases daily and hundreds of deaths?

So before the powers that be arrested protesters who are doing nothing other than venting their anger, frustration and sorrow at the mismanagement that has seen 13,480 deaths at the time of writing. There will indeed be an ever growing number of protests and protestors so long as this failed system of governance continues to push the country over the brink.

Taking a hardline against protestors is going to only remind people who are in charge and who continue to fail the Rakyat. It also tells the whole world that we are not only unable to manage ourselves but will oppress anyone who points this out. Continue to muzzle the Rakyat at your own peril. The numbers and unfolding disaster speaks for itself and at some point those responsible for this gross mismanagement will be made answerable for the lives lost.