A KEY factor in the efficacy of a government is its success in implementing policies and regulatory systems.
Malaysians have been cautioned numerous times that if the standard operating procedures (SOP) to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are not taken seriously, there would be consequences on the economy. The idea is to control the pandemic so that businesses can continue to operate with precautions in place.
However, the degree of public compliance with SOP and the movement control order nationwide has not been satisfactory, as seen in the number of compounds issued by the police every day. Hence, the government has forecast that if non-compliance with SOP continues, the number of Covid-19 infections daily might reach 13, 000 by the middle of this month.
We need to understand why so many individuals are not complying with SOP even while the number of new infections recorded daily is high. It could be due to SOP tiredness.
Success in controlling the spread of the virus does not depend on the government alone but also on the public.
Although most of the population wear face masks while in public areas, doing so without physically distancing oneself defeats the purpose. It is common to see people not observing the physical distancing rule in many areas, including restaurants, thus contributing to the spread of the virus.
While Malaysia and other countries around the globe are still battling to control the pandemic, China has succeeded in effectively containing it. China’s success is centred on active case detection and management, including close contact identification, quarantine, and risk-based reduction of restrictions.
Chinese officials test each suspected case and all the close connections of those afflicted. Crowded assemblies are avoided. The Chinese government enacted extreme and thorough quarantine measures and succeeded.
In Malaysia, there are groups or individuals, including local celebrities, who do not seem to be at all worried about not complying with SOP. As a result, the number of new infections is still high daily although it seems to be going down after a full two-week lockdown was initiated on June 1.
China’s success in controlling the pandemic is due in part to its population’s adherence to the strict control measures imposed by the government.
Some aspects of the Chinese strategy, such as keeping an eye on individual movements, will not be tolerated in many societies globally, especially in the West. However, other nations should take on board best practices from China in this context.
Despite our current situation, we must acknowledge that the Malaysian government has formulated extensive measures, outreach, and regulatory requirements to contain the spread of Covid-19. It is now up to us to do our part so that the pandemic can be controlled sooner rather than later.
ASSOC PROF TS DR JESSICA ONG HAI LIAW
Director of Corporate Affairs, Industrial Network and International Relations and NORASHIKIN SAHOL HAMID
Coordinator of Corporate Affairs, Industrial Network and International Relations
National Defence University of Malaysia