The end is not nigh: It is up to you!

April 6th, 2020
A woman and a child wearing face masks walking past shut shops in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday. -AFP pic
A woman and a child wearing face masks walking past shut shops in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday. -AFP pic

MANY apocalyptic visions are being posted as the new coronavirus, Covid-19, causes devastation across the globe.

One relates to the origin of the phrase, The End of the World.

At this stage this is no certainty, although the deadly impact of the virus on life, jobs and the economy makes it seem like we are getting there.

Another vision is that this terrible virus is the visitation of God’s wrath on the conduct of human beings. This religious invocation, at its more optimistic, proclaims that if we do not reform we will perish which gives hope that if we did we might not.

The totally fatalistic teaches that we must succumb and not battle to survive against God’s wrath.

Things get deeply religious at this stage and it is dangerous ground to tread as those who consider themselves exclusively qualified to picture what they see do not want others to contradict it.

So it is best to leave them to their fate as the rest of humanity tries to use their ingenuity to stay alive and to reform their ways.

A number of countries are making a hash of it, unfortunately, putting them nearer the totally pessimistic fatalist vision.

In America we have staring at us where it has all gone wrong: President Donald Trump. A combination of incompetence and unadulterated lies, of blaming others and continuing with the bad old ways — and yet probably getting re-elected in November. Gone case.

In China we have the authoritarian system. It swiftly sweeps under the carpet a cover-up. Proceeds with little white lies in between to address the grave challenge with a cold efficiency no other country in the world can match.

All other countries fall in between, veering more towards a generally free and open system which reflects much of the way of the world we live in, but with sharp doses of imposition and control, such as lockdowns and social tracing.

In Italy and Spain, we see an initial bungling, resulting in great human tragedy. In the UK, until just recently, the authorities and society did not want to see all that went wrong in Italy and Spain.

Countries in Asia with ready authoritarianism in their democracies, when they could be called a democracy at all, have been able to introduce with greater speed controls on movements and social intercourse.

Even so, such disruptions do not sit easy among their peoples closer in the continuum to the freedoms in Europe and America than to acceptance of state impositions as in China.

There thus emerges the issue of social discipline and responsibility, how it is best engaged. Can we expect social distancing to be observed without contact tracing? Will lockdowns be adhered to without enforcement? Will there be collaboration and commitment to the common good in distressed times?

Let’s take Malaysia. There are many good people arranging food for the needy and protective equipment for front-liners treating the afflicted. But there are also people as in Kuala Lumpur supermarkets who shout at others not keeping their distance as they reach out to grab everything they can lay their hands on.

There are those on self-quarantine who think it does not include going out to join the queue for nasi kandar at a Mamak shop.

There are many who still flout the MCO, some not allowing their social life to be disturbed, others for the thrill of not getting caught, thinking it is all harmless fun.

Yet if there were to be a spike in Covid-19 cases they would be among the first to say how the authorities are not managing the deadly crisis well enough.

Last week I sat through a three-hour discussion on the severe cash flow problems of SMEs and the absolute need for government help without once hearing any suggestion on how the government is to raise the money — until I intervened.

We are in it together. The Singapore spirit Malaysians laud but do not emulate. We must love our country more. Particular needs can be met when we collaborate with commitment for the common good.

On the contrary, expletives are used against the authorities for being useless and — on top of it — for being a backdoor government only interested in playing politics as it addressed, not exclusively mind you, the needs of the people at the bottom of the heap in our society.

I am no apologist for the government. But this is the only one we have at this point of existential crisis for the country. It is our social responsibility to work with the government through the crisis.

The prime minister is holding the fort well in a calm and organised manner. He gets able support from the defence, finance and other ministers, as well as from Bank Negara which has done a superlative job of enabling greater liquidity in the banking system at time of greatest need.

We have a very able and dedicated director-general of Health.

We expect the team to perform, but we should not go about undermining them for particular reasons of business interests, political and individual dislike and so on.

The tabligh congregation took place from Feb 27 to March 1 while the country was in political crisis. The failure of governance during that period was one reason why Covid-19 became a greater challenge. We do not want to have something like that happen again when the pandemic is spreading but just might be brought under some control.

There have been idiotic and stupid things like warm water cures, identifiably spraying about in expensive protective suits, advice on how wives should speak and behave towards their husbands during the MCO, but we should not allow them to define what the government is trying to do — even if the ministers concerned should shut up or work in the office (or at home) instead of causing public disdain for the government.

Back to what this all means, clearly we want to be closer to the more optimistic than to the fatalist pessimistic scenario.

In the real world we do not want to be like America whose governmental and social behaviour points to a catastrophe of epic proportions, in loss of lives, loss of jobs and collapse of the economy.

One thing is for sure. America will afterwards no longer be the world’s largest economy. The end of America as the number one global power.

Neither do we want to be like China, even as it becomes the number one global power, in how we conduct our social and political life. We do not want an authoritarian system. We do not want big brother watching you all the time.

But we have to respond to the call of social responsibility and accept limitations to freedom during times of crisis, always knowing that we are still a democracy, will fight for it, and the government does not have carte blanche.

Neither do we.

By Tan Sri Munir Majid

The writer, a former NST group editor, returns to write on local and international political affairs

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/04/581592/end-not-nigh-it-you

How to ensure no one is left out

April 6th, 2020
Informal workers, such as fishermen, lose their main source of income when they are unable to work during a crisis. -NSTP File pic
Informal workers, such as fishermen, lose their main source of income when they are unable to work during a crisis. -NSTP File pic

IT has been more than a week since her husband left the house. Unable to reach him through mobile phone, Suniarti and her three children can only wait and pray that Mat, an odd-job worker, will return with food and household supplies, with the rice about to deplete in two days.

A non-governmental organisation (NGO) officer who helped to bring much-needed provisions to Suniarti and her family is now not able to do so due to the stricter second phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO). The government cash aid is only deposited into the account of the head of the household; Mat holds a Malaysian passport, whereas Suniarti is an Indonesian migrant, so she depends on Mat.

Due to a surge in the number of positive Covid cases, Malaysia has embarked on an extended MCO, initially from March 18 to 31, to contain the novel coronavirus.

But working from home is not an option, especially for small-time food and beverage operators, labourers who rely on per diem income and citizens who survive hand to mouth on a daily basis where their jobs require them to be physically present.

Some small-time business operators broke the MCO rules and served patrons (who also broke the MCO rules), desperate for an income to keep their businesses alive.

Corporate businesses, in the property and private education industries, resorted to virtual property and university open day events.

Lazada started selling fresh produce such as vegetables, fruits and fish to assist farmers and fishermen, whose operations have been affected by the MCO.

Freelancers, such as wedding planners, photographers, entertainers and graphic designers, are also struggling. Sure, they sometimes earn thousands of ringgit per job, but this is subject to seasonal peak demand, as well as competition, backed by social media reviews of their work.

SOCIAL PROTECTION SYSTEM

This pandemic has revealed the gaps in our social protection system. Informal workers lose their source of income when they are unable to work.

Along with the self-employed, they are not protected by social security coverage such as the Social Security Organisation (Socso), Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and paid leave.

As such, they will not be able to make claims in the event of a lay-off or pay-cut. Considering the impact of the MCO, multiple resources have to be pooled to provide relief. State governments, zakat bodies, NGOs and businesses have come up with initiatives to disburse assistance.

On March 27, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced an economic stimulus package to keep the economy going. Despite his assurance that no one will be left behind, most likely a group of citizens will be left out as the criteria to disburse cash aid depend on the Cost of Living Aid (BSH) and Inland Revenue Board databases.

Malaysia’s information databases on population are incomplete, and this leads to groups falling through the cracks.

For example, Rubiah, a 70-year-old single woman, who is illiterate and lives on her own in Keningau, Sabah, may not be aware of the RM800 one-off payment she is eligible to receive.

SHARED SERVICE CENTRE

One of the key lessons here is data streamlining and integrating databases to curb the fragmentation of data, which prevents some citizens from getting assistance, especially in times of crisis like the Covid19 pandemic.

Running databases such as e-kasih, e-bantuan, BR1M/BSH, EPF and Socso on parallel systems is costly and could be duplicative. By harmonising data fields via establishing a Shared Service Centre (SSC), sharing of databases can be attained, thus ensuring a seamless information flow across all social protection agencies. The Centrelink Australia is a good example.

SSC should include the zakat database, for one person can end up getting two wheelchairs, one from a zakat authority and another from Socso, negating efficiency in managing limited resources.

Muslim marriages’ and divorces’ registry, just like zakat, which falls under the state jurisdiction, must be shared via SSC to enable tracing for benefits and assistance.

The use of MyKad is key to a streamlined database. Beneficiaries and their dependents can be identified, special eligibility criteria can be added and cashless disbursements can be provided to those who do not have a bank account, and the effectiveness of the social programmes, as well as social assistance recipients’ behaviour, can be evaluated.

Integrating all social assistance programmes into SSC and by synergising the contributory bodies (EPF, Socso and the Retirement Fund (Incorporated), will result in a more cost-effective management system, reducing additional burden on employers to meet separate requirements for accounting and remittance of contributions.

For a better social safety net arrangement, the science fiction film genre has given some clues; where the individuals have all the information about themselves literally at their fingertips, whenever they have to identify themselves to pay for something, to apply for a job or to receive social assistance.

If leveraged effectively, by streamlining and integrating databases, using MyKad as a start, would allow the authorities to always be ready in managing the country’s social safety net.

By Datuk Dr Norma Mansor

The writer is president of Malaysian Economic Association, emeritus professor and director of Social Wellbeing Research Centre (Employees Provident Fund-endowed centre), Universiti Malaya

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/04/581590/how-ensure-no-one-left-out

Let’s reflect on how we treat our elderly

April 6th, 2020
Across the country schools, businesses and places of work have either been shut down or are restricting hours of operation as health officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19. -AFP pic
Across the country schools, businesses and places of work have either been shut down or are restricting hours of operation as health officials try to slow the spread of COVID-19. -AFP pic

LETTERS: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought almost the world to a standstill. Daily lives and activities have been interrupted on an unprecedented scale.

Being confined indoors has taught us the value and significance of our freedom of movement.

Before the Movement Control Order, we were free to move in and out of our homes. We were caught in the hustle and bustle of life and running around in the name of living.

Before the MCO was in place, have we considered the feelings of our aged, sickly and immobile parents who were not able to venture out of the home because of their physical condition?

Many children will think that they have done their duty by sheltering, feeding and taking care of their daily needs, like looking into their medication and personal hygiene.

How many took the time to take them out of the house for a walk in the park, to their place of worship, to visit their friends or relatives or just to the mall?

Some may say that their parents are not able to walk, but that is merely an excuse. The truth is, some of us never made the effort to go the extra mile for our loved ones.

The MCO has made me reflect on the aged who have been confined to their homes even before Covid-19. How we are feeling now is exactly how they would have felt when they were not able to go out.

Hopefully, after the Covid-19 is no longer a threat, we will see our aged parents in a different light. Take them out to smell the fresh air and enjoy nature.

When we see an aged man struggling to keep pace with others, we may hear disparaging remarks from the younger generation like, ‘Why can’t he just stay at home? Well, young man, ‘Why can’t you just stay home now?

by SAMUEL YESUIAH.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/04/581598/lets-reflect-how-we-treat-our-elderly

PM amused by creativity of M’sians in dealing with MCO

April 6th, 2020
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the people have their own creative ways in dealing with challenges and tests. -BERNAMA pic
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the people have their own creative ways in dealing with challenges and tests. -BERNAMA pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he was aware how Malaysians were dealing with the Movement Control Order (MCO) in their own way.

“I know after three weeks staying of staying at home, some may be burdened by the challenges and test by God,” he said in a live telecast today.

He said people were not able to do things that they were accustomed to and had to forget about their hobbies and jobs, while missing their families and friends who stayed elsewhere.

“In short, our lives have been different, and sometimes we feel a bit burdened by it. I observed on social media and noticed one husband wearing his wife’s ‘baju kelawar’ (caftan).

“Some people were cycling in the house. There were those who turned my speech into a song.

“I hope this is not a weird incident or buang tabiat, as people say. These are all part of your creativity in killing boredom by staying at home,” he said.

More importantly, he said, the people have their own creative ways in dealing with challenges and tests.

He said he believed that God would only test us with things that we are able to handle.

“To my fellow Malaysians, let us remember that we are inherently resilient, individually capable and collectively strong to face these uncertain times. Let us strengthen our resolve and stay committed to our fight against Covid-19.

“Let us stay the course and follow all orders made under the MCO. It is difficult, but certainly not impossible. This is the sacrifice we are called to make in order to win this war against the deadly virus.

“Winning this war starts in our homes and with our families. We can stop the virus from spreading by staying at home and maintaining physical distance. Stay strong, stay healthy, insyaAllah, we will succeed. Remember, after the rain, comes the sun. And better days will be here again,” he said

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/581872/pm-amused-creativity-msians-dealing-mco

Burnout among students on the rise

April 6th, 2020
NO doubt a necessity, the movement control order (MCO), however, could prove to be a challenge for students sitting for major exams this year, said Malaysian Mental Health Association president Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.

Panic and over exertion may lead to burnout.

Depending on their personalities and the family support they receive, some students may find it difficult to obtain proper guidance outside a normal academic environment, he said.

It’s crucial for exam candidates to get adequate support at home.

Prof Andrew said family support is crucial.

Prof Andrew said family support is crucial.

“Mimicking the usual daily routine as closely as possible can help prevent panic from setting in.

“Don’t let the holiday or weekend mood set in – wake up at the usual time and have adequate sleep, for example.”

He said even in normal circumstances, without the MCO in place, there is already a possibility of students burning out from academic pressure.

If not dealt with, the burnout can develop into major depression which can have debilitating and even fatal consequences.

“The 2017 National Mortality and Morbidity Survey showed that one in 10 adolescents in Malaysia have entertained suicidal thoughts in the preceding one year.

“It’s fair to assume that complications of burnout could have contributed to this alarming figure,” he said, adding that burnout must be differentiated from stress.

In small doses, stress is good and may improve cognitive performance.

Describing burnout as a psychological exhaustion and a complete lack of interest in things that leads to a decline in performance, he said parents and teachers usually do not believe that a child or adolescent would have suffered from burnout.

They might perceive it to be a weakness in character and expect the child to snap out of it.

“Overbearing parents, teachers or homework overload cause burnout among school children.

“At university, the causes are usually family issues, financial problems and difficulty in time management,” he said, adding that students with part-time jobs have a higher tendency to burnout.

Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, a senior consultant psychiatrist at the University Malaya (UM) Medical Centre’s department of psychological medicine, said society perceives burnout to be a weakness when it is a mental health issue.

“A burnout is not a medical condition but it can contribute to mental and physical illness.

“If not addressed, cases of mental illness such as depression will increase.

“Among the youth, burnout is mostly related to sports or studies. People perceive low academic performance as a failure in life so students are constantly under pressure to do well which can lead to burnout.”

In severe cases, burnout can lead to suicide, he said.

More children are showing signs of burnout, said child therapist Priscilla Ho.

Having worked with youths for the past 15 years, she said children and youths who suffer from burnout are usually those who ask and expect way too much of themselves, without being pressured by others.

The majority of these children come from well-off parents and are generally enrolled in better schools. The expectations on themselves are so high that they are unachievable, she said.

Burnout, she added, could be due to an imbalance between requirements and personal resources.

Excessive demands at school, uncertain or negative future prospects, and the behaviour of educators could be among the causes.

“Some parents cause their children to burn out although they will never admit it.

“Often, they cannot deal with it when their children show signs of burnout. They think it’s an act of defiance so they deal with it by being even tougher on the kids – which only makes matters worse,” she said.

Prevention is better than cure

Parents play an important role in preventing burnout among children, said Ho.

To allow for early intervention, parents should be vigilant of tell tale signs like weight fluctuation, self-harm, constant fatigue, insomnia, lashing out at people, isolation and a sudden decline in academic achievements.

“Bed-wetting is another sign especially among the younger ones. Similar to self-harm, bed-wetting may be a cry for help.

“The child loses control of an important bodily function because he or she can no longer endure the imposition of constant and excessive controls.”

Students can prevent feeling burnout by being more organised, Ho suggested.

“Evaluate your priorities and set realistic daily goals that are achievable. Beware of adopting priorities of your peers because theirs may likely differ from yours.”

She said taking short breaks when studying and getting enough rest are crucial.

Dr Muhammad Muhsin said severe cases can lead to suicide.

Dr Muhammad Muhsin said severe cases can lead to suicide.

Teens aged between 14 and 17 need up to 10 hours of sleep, while young adults up to age 25, need up to nine hours, she said.

Exercising, enjoying “me time”, taking a breather from gadgets and social media, and limiting contact with negative people, can avoid one from getting burnout.

The most important thing students can do for themselves, she said, is learning to say ‘no’.

“If you keep on saying ‘yes’ to everything, you might get burntout just by thinking about how you can accomplish so much in so little time,” she said, adding that reaching out to trusted confidants like friends and family, is helpful.

Having someone listen to you pour out your stress and worries lessens the burden and gives you peace of mind to face the daily challenges.

Echoing Ho, Dr Muhsin suggested taking up enriching activities like sports, hobbies and volunteering.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doing activities that you find enjoyable can prevent burnout, he said.

“Time management is crucial to ensure balance. If time is limited, prioritise your tasks.

“Don’t take on multiple tasks that are beyond the capabilities and resources, and don’t procrastinate. It is stressful doing things last minute,” he said, stressing that exercise and healthy eating are vital.

A firm believer of education being a joyful process, Prof Andrew said maintaining a study schedule and being aware of one’s limitations will go a long way in preventing burnout.

“Striving for excellence does not mean being perfect or a top scorer all the time,” he said.

Prof Andrew said parents should not impose their high expectations on their children.

“Manage your expectations. Children often succumb to the parental demands for them to outperform others. This causes them to push themselves further and finally get burntout,” he said.

No death due to Covid-19 at PPR Harmoni, Sandakan – Dr Christina

April 6th, 2020

Dr Christina Rundi – File photo

KOTA KINABALU: There is no death due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the Taman Harmoni People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Sandakan, said Sabah Health director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi.

“The news that was viraled through the Whatsapp application on the death due to Covid-19 at the PPR is not true,” she said in a statement today.

On the Covid-19 infection in Sabah, Dr Christina said 13 new cases were reported yesterday, comprising five cases in Kota Kinabalu; Kinabatangan (three); Penampang (two) and one each in Tuaran, Beaufort and Kunak.

This brings to a total of 238 cases of Covid-19 in the state as of yesterday, she said, adding that 34 of them have recovered from the illness as of April 4.

She said one death due to Covid-19 was reported at Keningau Hospital last April 4, bringing the total number of death due to the virus in Sabah to two.

Meanwhile, she expressed the department’s appreciation and gratitude to all quarters for their contribution of personal protection equipment (PPE).

She said the use of PPE in health facilities has increased drastically since the Covid-19 outbreak, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 units of PPE used in hospitals per day and 3,000 units by health clinics. –

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2020/04/06/no-death-due-to-covid-19-at-ppr-harmoni-sandakan-dr-christina/

More tests ahead for Muhyiddin

April 6th, 2020
TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic) is known as a no-drama politician and he passed his first month as Prime Minister without much drama.

In fact, by most accounts, he has done quite well given that he came in amid a health pandemic as well as accusations of leading a backdoor government.

Muhyiddin has been a steady pair of hands in tackling the Covid-19 crisis and his government’s stimulus package was well-received by the common folk despite rumblings from the business sector.

“This is an unprecedented crisis but he has managed to hold the fort,” said former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

His coalition of strange bedfellows also seem to be holding together and informed sources say Cabinet meetings go on much more smoothly than in the previous administration.

But there were a few embarrassing and amusing slip-ups such as the “Doraemon advisory” for those working from home and a minister donning a hazmat suit during a cleaning-up campaign.

“They should not bring the nonsense from the last government into this government,” said Penang Umno politician Azizi Safar.

Muhyiddin has also shown a Machiavellian touch in the way he formed his Cabinet.

He took religion out of the purview of PAS leaders and he gave the Umno ministers portfolios that more or less loosened their control over the Malay base. Portfolios that were directly connected to the Malay grassroots went to his own party leaders.

“You are looking at a political animal who has survived numerous ups and downs,” said a Putrajaya official.

The Covid-19 crisis has been a bane and boon for Muhyiddin. It is a tough test for his government but it has also given him some breathing space to stabilise his Perikatan Nasional coalition.

It is no secret that his team is working on the numbers, that is, a headcount of MPs, in preparation for his next big political test when Parliament sits on May 18.

There has been no official confirmation of how many MPs Muhyiddin has on his side, although the speculation is that he has the support of 114 MPs. The May sitting will provide the first concrete evidence of the strength of his coalition.

Once the numbers are confirmed, Muhyiddin will have the “passport” to go on until he decides to call for a general election.

The Opposition’s threat of a motion of no confidence in Parliament has also passed.

A no confidence motion implies an intention towards a snap election and lawyer Lee Chin Cheh said that nobody, including the Opposition side, wants to go in that direction for now.

The fact that the Prime Minister and his team has steered clear of playing the blame game has also been a welcome change.

“This is about health and saving lives. You are not going to win support playing politics,” said Dr Zambry who is also Pangkor assemblyman.

The Perikatan government has turned out more stable than expected. Some joked it is because the coalition partners have a common dislike of the DAP and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The actual reason is that the Malays feel comfortable with the government. You can see that on social media and when you go around,” said Dr Zambry.

No government of the day can hope to be stable without the support of Malays who make up 60% of the population.

Muhyiddin’s government, which includes Bersatu, Umno and PAS, commands the support of some 85% of the Malays.

For instance, the Malay social media went into overdrive when Muhyiddin, whose father was a religious teacher, recited a doa or prayer in Arabic in his recent TV telecast.

Apparently, it was the first time a Prime Minister had prayed this way on TV.

The fact that his wife Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman wears a tudung – the first time the wife of a prime minister has done so – was also a big deal for the community.

Muhyiddin has not stepped on any landmines. But his biggest challenge will be the economy which is heading into a recession and job losses.

He has shown resolve in tackling the Covid-19 crisis and he is more than adept in juggling the politics surrounding his government.

“The next big test will be to steer the country through the economic hard times,” said Dr Zambry.

In the meantime, there is the Mahathir factor to overcome.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has eased off on his political attacks. The statesman and the doctor in him has seen him rally to support the movement control order.

But efforts to reconcile the two Bersatu big guns have failed and the informed opinion is that Dr Mahathir is waiting for an opportune time to strike.

Dr Mahathir has won the Bersatu chairman’s post unopposed and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir is challenging Muhyiddin for the presidency in party elections due after June.

Muhyiddin has been treading carefully around the elder man. He has not touched Dr Mahathir’s home state of Kedah which is still under Pakatan Harapan even though the numbers have shifted.

There is no pressure for Mukhriz to vacate the Kedah Mentri Besar’s post and there was even talk that Muhyiddin had offered Mukhriz the deputy prime minister’s post earlier on.

Muhyiddin does not want to give Dr Mahathir more reason to get upset, he wants Dr Mahathir on his side.

Muhyiddin has done well in his first month but more tests to his leadership lie ahead.

The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Muhyiddin: Better days will be here again

April 6th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: As the movement control order (MCO) approaches its third week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has urged Malaysians to remain patient saying that the stay-at-home order was a necessary sacrifice in “uncertain times”.

“To my fellow Malaysians, let us remember that we are inherently resilient, individually capable and collectively strong to face these uncertain times.

“Let us strengthen our resolve and stay committed to our fight against Covid-19. Let us stay the course and follow all orders made under the MCO. It is difficult, but certainly not impossible, ” he said.

Referring to the MCO as a necessary sacrifice by every Malaysian, Muhyiddin reiterated that the only way to win the battle against Covid-19 is by staying at home and maintaining a physical distance from others.

“Stay strong, stay healthy and God willing, we will succeed.

“Remember – after the rain comes the sun, and better days will be here again, ” he said in his speech telecast live on RTM on Monday (April 6) while announcing another stimulus package for SMEs.

Muhyiddin also paid tribute to dedication shown by frontliners working throughout the MCO.

“Thank you to every doctor, nurse, police, soldiers, Immigration, Rela, the Fire and Rescue Department, Welfare Department staff, NGOs, volunteers and all who are in the front line.

“Thank you to every one of you too, for always adhering to the MCO. Remain patient and calm. God willing, we will rise again, ” he said.

By RASHVINJEET S. BEDI and TARRENCE TAN.

Read more  @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/06/muhyiddin-better-days-will-be-here-again

Muhyiddin unveils RM10bil stimulus package for SMEs (updated)

April 6th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has unveiled a special stimulus package worth RM10bil aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in a bid to soften the impact of the movement control order (MCO).

According to Muhyiddin, SMEs and micro-businesses made up two-thirds of the workforce of the country and contributed 40% of the country’s economy.

This is an addition to the other economic stimulus packages for the people to increase cash flow to ensure the economy does not collapse.

Muhyiddin had on March 27 unveiled an economic stimulus package known as pakej prihatin or caring package valued at RM250bil.

This was after the government had enforced an MCO since March 18 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The MCO was supposed to end on March 31, but the government extended it until April 14.

Here are the highlights of the Prime Minister’s speech on Monday (April 6):

* The government will increase the wage subsidy of RM600 monthly for employers from RM5.9bil announced on March 27 to RM13.8bil, an additional RM7.9bil.

- For companies that employ more than 200 people, the number of workers who will be eligible for the subsidy is increased from 100 previously, to 200.

- For companies that employ between 76-200 employees, the company will receive a wage subsidy of RM800 for each worker.

- For companies that employ between 1-76 employees, the company will receive a wage subsidy of RM1,200 for each worker.

The aid comes with a condition that employers must retain their staff for at least six months.

* The creation of a RM2.1bil Prihatin Special Grant for all SME companies that qualify.

* The Government will provide a special grant of RM3,000 to each company, which is expected to benefit nearly 700,000 micro SMEs nationwide. These SMEs must register with the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) to enjoy this facility. The government will obtain a list of eligible SMEs from the Local Authorities and Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

* The government will be abolishing the 2% interest rate for the RM500mil Micro Credit Scheme under Bank Simpanan Nasional.

* The micro loan scheme for micro businesses extended to Tekun Nasional with a maximum loan limit of RM10,000 per company at no interest. For this purpose, a sum of RM200 million will be provided. Applicants can only choose from one of these schemes.

* The government has agreed to encourage negotiations between employers and employees on the terms of their employment, including the option to deduct salaries, and to allow unpaid leave during the MCO.

Employers and employees can refer to the Labour Department to obtain advise in regards to any problems arising from a resolution. Negotiations have to be based on employment laws of the country.

* The government has granted an automatic moratorium of 30 days to allow companies to submit statutory documents to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) from the last date of the MCO.

* The filing of the companies financial statements is also extended for three months from the last date of the MCO. The flexibility is given to companies with financial years ending Sept 30 until Dec 31. Companies will have to apply for this flexibility from SSM and no late charges will be charged.

The government has appealed to owners of private premises to reduce rental rates for to SMEs during the MCO and three months after it ends.

- They will be given additional tax deductions equal to the amount of rent reduction from April to June. This is subject to the condition that they reduce the rental by at least 30% during that period.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/06/muhyiddin-unveils-rm10bil-special-stimulus-package

Covid-19: 131 new cases, death toll now at 62

April 6th, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia recorded 131 new Covid-19 cases on Monday (April 6), taking the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 3,793.

The country also reported one new death, which brings the Covid-19 death toll in Malaysia to 62 cases.

This translates to a fatality rate of 1.63% out of the total number of cases, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 briefing here.

In terms of recoveries, Malaysia discharged 236 more patients as of noon Monday – the highest number of recoveries in a single day for the country so far.

So far, 1,241 patients have recovered from Covid-19 since the outbreak began.

The rate of Covid-19 recovery in Malaysia is 32.7% out of the total number of positive cases.

Currently, 102 patients are being treated at intensive care units (ICU), with 54 of them requiring the use of ventilators.

On the latest Covid-19 deaths, Dr Noor Hisham said the 62nd fatality is a 67-year-old Malaysian, who has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure.

He is a close contact of a cluster at the Sri Petaling tabligh gathering.

The man was treated at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah hospital in Terengganu and died on April 5.

Malaysia has entered its 20th day of the movement control order (MCO) as

people are instructed to stay at home and their movement is heavily restricted.

The MCO is scheduled to end on April 14, barring any further extensions by the government.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/06/covid-19-131-new-cases-death-toll-now-at-62