PETALING JAYA: Malaysians must be confined to their homes for a period of time to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission but food must be provided to those without any income, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic).
The former prime minister said the startling spike in Covid-19 figures must be stemmed immediately, and the government must ensure that people are able to survive this difficult period.
“It is right to reintroduce the movement control order (MCO). But now we are much less strict in doing so.
“We need to confine people to their homes. There should not be any excuse for crowds to form. Staying apart must be applied even among the frontliners.
“Confining people at home means they will have no money and no food. The government must accept the responsibility of keeping people alive.
“For food there should be public kitchens where food is prepared, packaged and delivered to homes, ” he said in a blog post on Thursday (May 20).
He added that those at home should not come out to collect the food at common kitchens as crowds will form.
“Couriers should be recruited to deliver food to houses. There should be no contact between the delivery riders and the householders.
“Hotel kitchens should be utilised to prepare and package the food. The home quarantine should be for at least one month.
“The police and the military should be very strict in ensuring the people don’t come out to shop or do anything, ” he said.
He admitted that it would be a costly endeavour, but the costs must be borne by the government.
The Langkawi MP also said that the country must swallow the bitter pill and be “serious” about the fight against Covid-19, or else more lives will be lost to the pandemic.
“Whatever may be the cause of the present flare-up of the pandemic, what must be accepted is that dealing with it, attempting to reduce the number of new cases will cost a lot of money, ” he said.
He noted that although Malaysia was able to bring down new infections in the first round of MCO last year, the country still has not learned from its success.
“When we first experienced the attack (of the virus), the whole country had to accept total movement control. There were no cars on the streets and no pedestrians.
“After one month we congratulated ourselves on the success of the measure, ” he said.
“We became overconfident. We believed we knew how to manage the pandemic. And we held elections in Sabah.
“We did not learn anything. The month of Ramadan is the month of bazaars. Everybody enjoys the bazaars. Certainly many regard the bazaars as a means to make extra income, ” he said.
The government, he added, did not want to be unpopular by banning the bazaars, but when new cases shot up to more than 4,000 a day, the bazaars were suddenly banned.
“It was a good example of flip-flopping that the people cannot accept. The hawkers had bought the ingredients for their products for the whole month. Now they would lose money as there was no way for them to recover their capital, ” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the vaccination programme must also be sped up, and that whatever vaccines are being used extensively in other countries must be accepted.
“A special effort must be made to get kampung people (villagers) to be vaccinated.
“The government claims it has spent more than RM600bil in the fight against the pandemic. If so, we should have the capacity to deal with the pandemic.
“But obviously we have not. We must know why. RM600bil is a lot of money. It is not easy to spend that amount in such a short space of time, ” he said.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has previously stated that the Perikatan Nasional government had allocated more than RM600bil in economic stimulus packages and in Budget 2021 to battle Covid-19 and revitalise the economy.