Press Statement By Julian Tan:
Just hours after the SDMC announcement that Sarawak will go into MCO 3.0 from 29.5.2021 to 11.6.2021, the Prime Minister announced that there would be a full lockdown nationwide from 1.6.2021 to 14.6.2021. To further complicate matters, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah hold a joint press conference yesterday and announced enforcement of the SOPs throughout the lockdown. Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri repeatedly stated that “SOP PKP Penuh yang saya umumkan tadi TERPAKAI Di SEMUA NEGERI SELURUH NEGARA dan TIADA negeri yang terkecuali”. Total silence from SDMC immediately after.
Such uncoordinated effort is already uncalled for, yet instead of clarifying the confusion, what Sarawakians bumped into are state ministers, each giving contradicting the announcement of another minister. Dr Sim Kui Hian stated in his Facebook that “Sarawak will go straight to MCO 1.0 (instead of small step up from CMCO to MCO 3.0) from 29 May 2021”. On the other hand, Abdul Karim announced that Sarawak would not go into full lockdown like MCO 1.0.
SDMC should avoid such conflicting nationwide and state-wide announcements, especially during pandemic crises like this where citizens’ lives are already at stake. Yet instead of immediately (yesterday) clarifying the matter by SDMC, some state minister already posted on Facebook the differences between west Versus Sarawak. Enough is enough. Such cheap publicity of autonomy got to stop. Fight it over in Parliament, and there is no point harping it on Facebook yet total silent when it comes to Parliament seating. Autonomy is meant for the State to make better decisions and not create more confusion in an emergency. Autonomy is a double-edged sword that needs to be helm by solid and competent leadership; indecisiveness will only make it cut the other way.
For sure, and there is nothing to be proud of, be it west or east, we are in as a united front to win this war over the pandemic. For once, we need to stop dividing the nation. Sarawak’s new covid daily infection rate per million of population is one of the highest in the world as of 30th May 2021. It only shows the failure of us containing it be it the government or the citizens. We failed to get ahead of the game. The previous MCOs and Sarawak EMCOs have failed. The daily infected numbers now are much higher and much more ‘spreadable’ based on the latest’ reproductivity rate (R).’ It is foolish of us thinking that by doing the same thing, we can curb the spread. Some things need to change for us to have a different outcome.
- Our contact tracing is not effective and fast enough. Close contact must be identified, test and isolate close contacts within 24hours to contain the spread. We need to take drastic measures to improve the current tracing mechanism.
- SDMC slow decision-making and indecisiveness. You don’t need more than 24hours to make a decision in a crisis like this. Stop the bureaucracy and start to coordinate well with the federal government.
- Ramp up mass testing. Even the current targeted rate of 150’000 daily testing is not good enough. In Sarawak, our latest average positive rate of more than 12% is more than doubled the 5% advisory rate by the World Health Organisation (WHO). To look into the mechanism of Combining Rapid Test (RTK-Ag) and RT-PCR to help quickly diagnose more cases.
- Poor compliance with SOP. Our current reproductivity rate (R)’, which is the second-highest in the world as of 24th May, shows that most will not have the discipline to follow the SOP in place. Full lockdown, therefore, is inevitable to curb the high daily new infected number.
- The latest research by top-100 most influential economists shows countries with stricter lockdown have better economic performance. Incrementally tightening more stringent measures in SOP will not work in curbing the daily infected new numbers and will only prolong the suffering on the economy of our local businesses. We need TOTAL “circuit breaker” to pre-empt escalating infections.
- Ramp up the vaccination program is our only option now. In reality, we are plagued with ministries still doing catching-up with the latest SOP changes, flip-flopping and confusion over SOPs, and poor compliance from the public.
It is welcoming news that Sarawak will be allocated 350,000 doses of vaccines per week starting June. 4.4 million doses by the end of August. Sarawak government urged to be transparent and lay down concrete plan on how they planned to ramp up the current vaccination from the average 6,490 daily to 45,000 vaccinations daily starting June. Our ICU capacity has reached its limit. What Sarawakians need now is decisive leadership with the only focus is to win over the COVID19 pandemic.