WHILE I applaud the government for successfully flattening the curve of the Covid-19 infections in the country, I also think that it is losing the plot. Just as there was no proper strategy and planning in the initial days of the movement control order (MCO), the same appears to be the case with regards to an exit plan after the conditional MCO.
The bits of news surfacing each day from the press conferences are indeed very revealing of the fact that there is no bigger picture and strategy going forward. Rather, the plans appear to be a day-by-day reaction to issues that surfaced in previous days.
One particular aspect that is very glaring is the lack of leadership from various ministries, in particular the Education Ministry. Before elaborating, I applaud the Women and Family Development Ministry for its proactive planning in completing the standard operating procedure (SOP) for taska operations very early on, and it was ready to run at the start of the conditional MCO period.
In comparison, the Education Ministry only started to send out questionnaires to all education institutions on Wednesday (June 3), asking them if they were ready to restart school. I believe this was a reaction to the National Security Council's press conference a day earlier which revealed that to date, the Education Ministry had not submitted any SOP to be discussed or approved.
Following this, various news portals announced that the Education Ministry’s guidelines for reopening have been sent out to schools and are available on the ministry's website. As of 6pm on June 4, I still cannot locate the said document. It must be well hidden somewhere on the website.
Firstly, I urge the Education Ministry to not tar all schools with the same brush. Some schools have already developed their SOP and are ready to restart with social distancing in place, as the density in some of these schools is much lower because they have a lower population of students. Schools should be allowed to reopen in stages based on each institution’s readiness.
Secondly, if the Education Ministry is not ready to allow schools to reopen, it should at the very least prepare a set of criteria that the schools need to fulfil so that they can reopen. It should not keep stakeholders guessing as to when schools can reopen. “We will let you know two weeks before as to when schools can be reopened” is not leadership.
Lastly, I urge the government to not lose sight of the forest for the trees. A recent report by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) said that small businesses are dropping like flies. Makcik Kiah is probably one of the casualties, as all that was promised in the initial economic stimulus announcements didn’t quite come through for her because she didn’t have many of the documents that Socso and the Inland Revenue Board required. Many deserving and undeserving individuals did receive financial help, but a lot of truly deserving ones also got short-changed.
AN ORDINARY MALAYSIAN , Kuala Lumpur
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