PUTRAJAYA: “The challenge to strike a fine balance between protecting lives and livelihood” is how Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin described the work that was cut out for the Perikatan Nasional administration over the past year as the country grappled to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These are the keywords that best describe the government’s focus in the past year. In that one year, we faced a major crisis that not only threatened lives but also caused a crisis to the economy that the world had not faced since the 1930s, ” said the Prime Minister, reflecting the year that was since the Perikatan government was formed on March 1 last year.
To protect the lives as well as the livelihood of the people, Muhyiddin said the government had taken bold and proactive measures, including enforcing a movement control order and rolling out an economic stimulus package worth RM305bil.
“With support from frontliners, civil servants, security personnel, the private sector and public, measures undertaken by the government showed positive outcomes.
“We have managed to flatten the Covid-19 curve during the first wave, curbed the second wave and now, we can see that daily cases during the third wave are showing a downward trend, ” he said in a special address in conjunction with his first year in office.With the MCO still enforced, compliance with standard operating procedure in place and with the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, Muhyiddin is confident that the Covid-19 infections can be curbed in the coming months.
The Prime Minister also presented a report on the country’s economic status, saying it has improved compared with April last year where it shrank 28.7%, with December figures showing only a 1.7% contraction.
Unemployment went from 5.3% in May last year to 4.8% recorded in December.
The reopening of sectors in phases since the implementation of the first MCO had contributed to improvements in the economy, said Muhyiddin.
“When the Covid-19 infection figures went up in January, the Federal Government decided it was necessary to enforce MCO for the second time.
“This time, we made more effort to balance the importance of public health and the need for economic growth.
“Which was why the government decided to allow more economic activities to be carried out during this MCO subject to strict SOP, ” he added.
The Prime Minister pointed out that allowing more businesses to operate was crucial as there were goods and products that needed to be exported such as rubber gloves, electrical and electronic products and furniture, all of which were in high demand.
“Despite allowing the manufacturing and part of retail and construction sectors to operate at 100% capacity, the loss of revenue was still significant, which is around RM633mil daily.
“The government then ordered for all economic activities in services, retail and construction sectors to fully operate with strict SOP to be followed, ” he explained.
With the measures taken, the government expected Malaysia’s economic position to improve this year, said Muhyiddin, adding that international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank had projected that the economy would record a growth of 7% and 6.7% respectively.
The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to record his appreciation to the foreign diplomatic missions for their contribution, adding that the crises brought about by the pandemic required not just local but also international collaborations in providing aid to the people.
“Malaysia highly appreciates the bilateral and multilateral support rendered, including delivering protective and medical equipment such as face masks and ventilators, as well as the exchange of expertise in managing the Covid-19 crisis.
“Foreign diplomatic missions have been playing a critical role in channelling accurate information and updates to the international communities in this country, including on policies concerning health screening, business operation and border control.
“For all that you have done to help us, I thank you very much, ” he said.