Let’s roll out some stats related to Coronavirus cases in Malaysia as of 30th May 2020.
- Total cases per 1M population: 240. In the US it is 5,400 and in the UK its 4,021.
- Total active cases: 1,317. In Germany, its 9,494.
- Total deaths: 115. In Italy its 33,340. In Switzerland its 1919.
- Total new infections in the last 24 hous: 30. In Singapore, its 506.
In terms of Coronavirus response, Malaysia is at least an A candidate, second only to perhaps Taiwan which is the only A+ country in the world.
Under the previous Pakatan Harapan Government, we could not even manage a temple dispute without it turning into almost an all out race war. Under the current Perikatan Nasional Government, Tan Sri Muhiyiddin’s Government worked like a well trained Formula 1 Pit crew and navigated the Coronavirus crisis efficiently and effectively.
Let everybody be clear about this: Langkah Sheraton saved Malaysia!
We would have been totally destroyed if we had the previous administration which was incompetent, ineffective, had no respect their leader and lacked the support from the Civil Service. The Coronavirus epidemic could have devastated the country like what it did to so many other highly advanced nations.
Credit should be given when credit is due!
Because we have successfully navigated the initial phase of this virus, the Government can now seriously start to rethink about how to reopen the country. This is because the impact of Covid 19 to our economy is still devastating due to the restrictions on travel and movement as well as the closure of our international borders to tourists. To give you a sense of the size of the potential problem, we have about RM 1.8 trillion worth of loans in our banking system. RM 1 trillion is to households. RM 133 billion is to the Hotel and Restaurant sector. RM 93 billion is to the construction sector. RM 124 billion is to the industrial sector. All these sectors are affected by Covid19.
In reopening Malaysia, we suggest that to give consideration to also reopening our borders to foreign tourists in a staged manner. We propose that the Government develop a smart phone app health declaration and position tracking app that must be downloaded by all foreign tourists intending to come to Malaysia prior to entry at Malaysia’s borders.
Rembau Times also proposes an RM 1,000 per tourist levy. This can be done on a one off basis and tied to the passport number, meaning that tourists who intend to revisit Malaysia do not need to pay the levy. This is because if we admit 100,000 tourists, we have to assume that at least 500 tourists will be carriers of Covid 19 which will need to be dealt with. However, the Government would have obtained receipts of RM 100 Million just from the levy, and if we assume that the average tourist spends RM 3,000 per head, that is an additional RM 300M to the economy. Based on the statistics for 2019, we received 26.1 million tourist arrivals in 2019, with a total spend of RM 86B, or average of RM 3,300 per capita and RM 446 on a per day basis. We can really do with this boost to the economy because currently we are losing that RM 86 Billion due to Covid19!
Furthermore, with the collapse in the global price of crude oil, we are staring down some really tough times, especially for Petronas and the oil industry sector in Malaysia.
Secondly, we propose that the Government really relook at all processes required for foreign direct investment in order to make it ultra-efficient. This is because it is expected that there will be a massive exodus of foreign manufacturing out of China, and Malaysia is at an opportunity to benefit from this flow of capital like the good ol’ late 90s. It is good that we have an ex-bank CEO like Tengku Zafrul as the Finance Minister. The less said about his predecessor, the better.
So in conclusion, we should be thankful. Without a change in Government, Malaysia would have been devastated by Covid-19. The current government was decisive and effective and had the full support of all the civil servants, from the Armed Forces, the Police and the frontline hospital staff. We should be proud of our leaders and I think we should be very optimistic about recovering strongly from this Covid 19.