SEATTLE, Washington — In Southeast Asia, all eyes will be on Malaysia as the nation begins to ease restrictions despite remaining concerns about the pandemic. Many in the country are not happy about this. According to an article in the Diplomat, more than half a million Malaysians have signed a petition asking for a slower reopening of the economy. However, Prime Minister Muhyiddin says it is time for the economy to start up again, albeit in safe and controlled conditions.
Malaysian Foreign Workers Tested for COVID-19
One step taken by the government of Malaysia to reopen the economy safely has drawn significant ire. Senior Minister Ismail Sabri explained that due to a recent rise in cases, all foreign workers in Malaysia would test for COVID-19. Malaysia has four million foreign workers, half of which are undocumented.
Continuing the effort to contain possible foreign cases of COVID-19 in Malaysia, the police arrested hundreds of undocumented expatriates in early May in the nation’s capital of Kuala Lumpur. This occurred to curtail the virus’s persistence. However, according to BBC, the United Nations called for the release of children and “vulnerable individuals” while the Human Rights Watch warned that these tactics could provoke COVID-19 in Malaysia.
These are not the only measures Malaysia took during the dire circumstances of this pandemic. According to Bloomberg Economics, Malaysia experienced its largest interest rate drop since the Great Recession at 0.5%. Combined with a fiscal stimulus package, this drop in interest rates will benefit the Malaysian economy. Economists at United Overseas Bank Ltd. say that Malaysia may be facing “its first annual deflation since 1969.”
Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s Six-Pronged Plan
The path towards coming on the other side of the pandemic stronger than ever is being paved by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. At the Non-Aligned Movement online summit, the Prime Minister shared with the world the six-pronged strategy Malaysia has used to fight COVID-19 since the virus was first identified in December of 2019. The six prongs of Malaysia’s plan to address the impacts of COVID-19 in Malaysia are as follows:
- Enforce an imposed movement control order (MCO) to help cease infections
- Provide economic stimulus packages during MCO so the economy will stay afloat
- As safely as possible, resume the economy’s normal activities
- Apply an economic recovery strategy
- Organize an economic revitalization proposal
- To navigate a new normal, maintain an economic reform to withstand future challenges
NGOs Help Malaysian Citizens
The Malaysian government is not alone in fighting this pandemic. NGOs in Malaysia are crucial partners in ensuring the health and survival of Malaysian citizens. However, in the moment of a pandemic, these NGOs need assistance to help with the crisis.
NGOhub is a campaign that realizes many homegrown NGOs in Malaysia are struggling to sustain themselves financially with the setbacks posed by COVID-19. So far, it has raised the equivalent of $23,000 for more than 31 NGOs in Malaysia. These funds will benefit families, elderly and HIV patients. Due to the extended MCO in Malaysia, NGOhub aims to more than double their progress.
The COVID-19 pandemic left a mark on societies and economies across the world. However, the Malaysian government decided it is time to fight back. By rounding up undocumented migrants, lowering the interest rate and releasing a six-pronged plan, the Malaysian Government is doing everything in its power to fight COVID-19. While many Malaysians are not comfortable with the actions of the government regarding opening the economy, Southeast Asia and countless other nations will be watching to see what happens.
– Ehran Hodes
Photo: Wikimedia Commons