Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s National Recovery Council is a more politicised version of the similarly-named independent council he proposed previously, as the current council is headed by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
As such, Mahathir believes it will not be effective at handling the Covid-19 crisis.
“This copies from Pejuang’s suggestion to form a National Recovery Council independent of the government.
“The problem with Muhyiddin is that he only thinks about politics, but not about the rakyat’s suffering,” Mahathir said in an online press conference today.
Previously, Mahathir had said he believes the solution to the problem is a National Recovery Council, which Pejuang had submitted a motion for in the upcoming Parliament session, though it was rejected.
Earlier, the government had announced the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which will be headed by a special committee. But on July 16, it was announced that a National Recovery Council, chaired by Muhyiddin, will replace the special committee.
Mahathir said today that Muhyiddin has not been able to show any success in terms of handling the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, even after the former met with Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz to discuss potential solutions.
“They came to see me to ask for my ideas about how to handle this and I told them everything, I didn’t hold back on anything because I think this is good for the people, but we can see the government has no capacity to implement the ideas we have given to them.
“I told them what needs to be done, but they are not being done properly, or not done at all,” he said.
Some solutions he had suggested in the meeting with Zafrul included utilising hotel kitchens as public kitchens to prepare food for the needy, setting up more army field hospitals equipped with oxygen and working with the private hospitals to ease the burden on the healthcare system.
He said that he gave these suggestions back when the daily new Covid-19 cases ranged around 6,000 cases a day. Now that the figure has climbed as high as up to 13,000 cases a day, Mahathir said it will be much more difficult to reduce the number of cases now.
That is why, he said, he believes there is still a need for an independent body consisting of professionals from relevant backgrounds, including in the fields of science, economics and sociology.
Now, he said, the country is in dire straits with sky-high daily Covid-19 cases and deaths while the people are struggling both economically and mentally, some to the point of suicide.
“All these things need to be attended to, but the government is more interested in how to retain its position as government, particularly with a prime minister who wants to remain the prime minister,” he said.
Pejuang is ready and wants to help the government tackle the Covid-19 crisis, he said, but they want to be free of government bureaucracy and politics.
Mahathir said he is even willing to step down as Pejuang chairperson if he was asked to join an independent body to resolve the pandemic, as he does not want to bring politics into this matter.
“But this government is only interested in ‘oh we should get the credit’ because this is good for their politics.
“We may fail… but we think we have ideas that can help reduce the number of new cases every day.
“In fact, the government themselves think we have ideas, which is why they sent the finance minister to ask me what they can do to deal with this pandemic,” he said. MKINI
MALAY MAIL / MKINI