PETALING JAYA: In a no-holds-barred warning, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that we are all faced with a terrible catastrophe over the Covid-19 outbreak.
The former prime minister said that Malaysia, like many other countries, would lose a lot of revenue because of the various restrictions.
Dr Mahathir, who is self-quarantining at home after coming into contact with Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii who tested positive for the disease, said that as the tourist industry is the second biggest foreign exchange earner after Petronas, the government would lose a lot of revenue over travel restrictions.
“People working in the tourist industry would lose jobs and income. This would be terrible because these people need food and drink, ” he said in a post on his popular blog chedet.cc on Monday (March 23).
“The stimulus package involved an increase in government expenditure and a decrease in taxes. Meeting this extra expenditure with decreased government revenue would be challenging.
“In the meantime, even a partial lockdown would reduce business and profits. Again, government revenue would be affected, ” he said.
Dr Mahathir also said that for small enterprises, the loss would be terrible and they earn “today for today”.
“Even if they are able to do some business it would not be sufficient to pay for their food. The government may have to give them financial support, ” he said.
He acknowledged that Covid-19 was a worldwide problem that could cause economies to go into recession and that even the richest countries would suffer.
Personally, Dr Mahathir said that he must accept being quarantined although he did not think much of it in the early stages when his assistant showed him a group photo of himself with several young Pakatan Harapan MPs, including Yii.
“This coronavirus is something that we never had before. It is easily infectious or contagious and in a number of cases it is fatal.
“We have no medicine or vaccine to counter it. All we can do is to treat symptoms like fever, cough and breathlessness – and if there is lung infection and you are old, you may die.
“I am old, 94 years old. The threat posed by Covid-19 is due to ease of infection and possible death. To manage the infection or contagion, it is necessary to isolate people.
“They must avoid being close to each other. Since we usually do not know who has the virus, everyone has to be far apart from each other, ” he said.