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The Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance seized federal power through a political coup orchestrated amid a pandemic, forcing the new prime minister and his cabinet to hit the ground running to contain the outbreak.
At first, the measures implemented yielded positive results as the number of cases began to dwindle. But things soon spiralled out of control.
Since the first Covid-19 case was detected in Malaysia on Jan 25, 2020, the virus has claimed more than 12,000 lives nationwide.
It appears to have also dealt a fatal blow to Muhyiddin Yassin's 16-month-old administration as the prime minister is expected to step down tomorrow.
In an interview with Malaysiakini last week, former health minister Dr S Subramaniam (above) shared his thoughts on the issue.
He noted how the fragile government had to include politics into its Covid-19 mitigation plan to balance between saving lives and livelihoods.
“The PN government took this (came into power) at the beginning of the pandemic and it was not a strong government in terms of numbers. It had a flimsy majority from the word 'go'.
“So compromises had to be made, where there was a need to accommodate performers and non-performers,” he added.
Numerous important positions, he noted, were given to certain quarters not based on their capabilities but rather as a reward for their support.
According to him, this situation was “unfortunate” both for the prime minister and the public.Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
“For the prime minister, it would have been a nightmare. I am sure he knew what was happening but he was unable to react because any reaction would bring about negative results.
“For the people, we are caught in a pandemic and at the same time, we have a government that is not strong and unable to make strong decisions.
“That is the reason for whatever that is happening now,” he added.
One of the cabinet ministers who had failed to inspire confidence during the crisis with his repeated faux pas was none other than the health minister himself, Dr Adham Baba.
The government was also criticised for flip-flopping on its Covid-19 policies whereas the move to declare a state of emergency to battle the pandemic was viewed with scepticism.
Muhyiddin’s political rivals and critics claimed it was aimed at preventing lawmakers from scrutinising his majority in Parliament and the daggers were unsheathed when cases and fatalities surged.
It went downhill from the Sabah polls
In the initial stages of the pandemic, Subramaniam said, the steps implemented were based on science and the wisdom of public health officials, which proved to be effective.
“The lockdowns were real lockdowns. The messaging was right... there was a lot of public trust in the messaging. So these helped to control the pandemic,” he added.