MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Malaysian woman, Pakistani man found dead in KL flat


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): A 53-year-old local woman was found dead with a 15cm strangulation mark on her neck while a Pakistani man was found hanged in their rented flat unit at Jalan Seri Sentosa here on Saturday (Feb 28).

The body of the 41-year-old man was found in the living room while the woman's body was in a bedroom of the house.

Brickfields district police chief ACP Anuar Omar said the police was informed about the incident by the landlord, upon being alerted by a female tenant at 6.08pm.

"The last time both victims were seen by the witness, who is also their housemate, was at 7.30am yesterday before going to work and they were in good condition.

"The neighbours also said that they did not hear any commotion or loud noises from the house,” he said in a statement.

Their identities were not revealed and police are still investigating their relationship status and the cause of the incident.

The bodies were sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for post mortem and the case is being investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code. - Bernama

Muhyiddin sertai solat hajat dengan 500 jemaah sempena setahun PN mentadbir


Muhyiddin Yassin (kiri) menyertai solat hajat perdana sempena setahun pemerintahan kerajaan PN di Masjid Putra Putrajaya malam ini.

PUTRAJAYA: Lebih 500 jemaah, termasuk Perdana Menteri, Muhyiddin Yassin dan menteri Kabinet menyertai solat hajat perdana sempena setahun pemerintahan kerajaan Perikatan Nasional (PN) di Masjid Putra Putrajaya.

Majlis anjuran Jabatan Kemajuan Agama Islam Malaysia (Jakim) itu dihadiri ramai pemimpin parti, termasuk daripada PAS, Umno dan PPBM.

Antara anggota Kabinet yang hadir ialah Menteri Kanan (Keselamatan), Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Menteri Kanan (Pendidikan), Radzi Jidin, Menteri Kanan (Ekonomi), Azmin Ali, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana (Hal Ehwal Agama), Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia, Saifuddin Abdullah, Menteri Dalam Negeri, Hamzah Zainudin, Menteri Kesihatan, Dr Adham Baba, Menteri Pembangunan Luar Bandar, Latiff Ahmad, Menteri Tenaga dan Sumber Asli, Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, Menteri Pelancongan, Seni dan Budaya, Nancy Shukri serta Menteri Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat, Rina Harun.

Tidak terkecuali Timbalan Menteri Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna, Rosol Wahid, Ketua Setiausaha Negara, Mohd Zuki Ali, Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan Awam, Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman, Timbalan Presiden PPBM, Ahmad Faizal Azumu, Setiausaha Kerja PPBM, Muhammad Suhaimi Yahya dan Ketua Penerangan PAS, Kamaruzaman Mohamad.

Majlis dimulakan dengan solat Maghrib dan solat hajat yang diimankan Imam Besar Masjid Putra, Ikmal Zaidi, diikuti bacaan Yasin, tahlil dan diakhiri solat Isyak serta doa selamat. - FMT

Muhyiddin to reveal new strategy for a vibrant economy


Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he will announce a new comprehensive strategy to make the economy more vibrant.

PETALING JAYA: A new strategy to revive the economy is to be announced, “maybe in the middle of March”, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

He said it would be a comprehensive strategy, which he had just discussed with the finance minister (Tengku Zafrul Aziz).

I will announce what the real strategy is, so that we can get out of the current problem faster and our economy will become more vibrant,” he said in a special interview with Bernama and other news organisations to mark his first year as prime minister.

“Just wait, I will announce that, maybe in the middle of March,” he said while discussing the measures that been taken to prop up the economy in the face of movement and business restrictions because of Covid-19.

“At this juncture we have reopened the economy and we believe we cannot impose a clampdown. Maybe the tourism sector has not recovered as we had wanted, that we have to see,” he said.

He said foreign investors, including Fortune 500 companies, have continued to show interest in investing in Malaysia due to various incentives offered by the government.

“It is important that we increase investment, but we set our eyes on (certain) sectors such as high technology and digital,” he said. In addition, the government has also decided to encourage domestic investment.

He recently launched the MyDigital programme to turn Malaysia into a technologically-advanced economy by 2030. Part of the programme involves a RM15 billion project to invest in 5G mobile communications technology.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia received a total of RM109.8 billion in new investments for the first nine months of 2020 involving almost 3,000 projects, with 64,701 jobs created. The manufacturing sector accounted for almost 60% of RM65.3 billion investments, followed by services and other primary sectors.

He said the government’s comprehensive plan on the economy had yielded results in reducing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the national economy. - FMT

'More needs to be done to help Sabah and Sarawak be on par with other states'

 Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during a special interview with senior news editors at his house on Friday. - Pic courtesy of PMO

PUTRAJAYA: More needs to be done to help Sabah and Sarawak be on par with other states in the peninsular, including developing better infrastructure and connectivity.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this was among the reasons why he created a special portfolio to oversee matters on East Malaysia as one of the main priorities of the Perikatan Nasional government.

This, he said, was reflected in the appointment of Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) and his deputy (Mukah member of Parliament, Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib).

"I have also convened meetings with the chief ministers of the states on negotiations and claims relating to the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

"In fact, I have also resolved the settlement between Petronas and Sarawak."

Muhyiddin said this in a special interview with senior news editors at his house on Friday.

The interview was held in conjunction with Perikatan Nasional's one year anniversary in administration. The New Straits Times was represented by senior news editor Faridul Anwar Farinordin at the interview.

Citing a case where a university student had to climb up a tree to get better Internet connectivity in Sabah, he said this showed that more needed to be done to improve Internet services as well as other technological development there.

"Nevertheless, there are also states in the peninsular that are lagging behind compared to other states.

"Although such matters are legacy issues left behind by the previous administration, the PN government must find ways to bridge the income gap as enshrined in the 2030 Shared Prosperity Vision Blueprint," he added. - NST

Kelantan denies state leaders cut queue for Covid-19 vaccination

 Kelantan has denied its state leaders were pushed ahead of frontliners to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the state. - NSTP file pic

KOTA BARU: Kelantan has denied its state leaders were pushed ahead of frontliners to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the state.

State Government, Health and Housing Committee chairman Dr Izani Husin said they had never interfered on matters involving Covid-19 vaccine distribution and this includes providing the names of who should receive the inoculation to the state health department.

He described such rumours which had gone viral on social media as nothing more than fake news.

"As a state executive councillor, I would like to say that the news which went viral on social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp over the past few days is not true.

"The news stated that the state government had cut the queue of those (frontliners) supposed to receive the vaccine. For us, this is fake, has a bad intention and seeks to slander the state government as we (the state government) had never interfered in such matters and never pressured the state health department to make the decision," he said in a statement.

Dr Izani also denied any discussion was held with the state health department to provide a list of names of those from the state government who should be inoculated with the vaccine.

"I had also asked the state health director and his deputy whether someone from the state government had approached them and pushed them with the name list but they denied it," he said.

Dr Izani said he was surprised with information that allegedly said that the state government had provided the names of 200 individuals (for vaccination)r as the real figure was only 23 people.

"The 23 names are not provided by the Menteri Besar but by the state health department. I also don't know where the 200 names in the list came from," he said. - NST

PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution says will sue defectors, insists Muhyiddin has no parliamentary majority

 PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail confirmed the two defectors had been sacked from their posts. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail confirmed the two defectors had been sacked from their posts. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — PKR said it would sue two of its former MPs, Larry Sng and Steven Choong, who defected to Perikatan Nasional (PN) today.

Party secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said the duo have been sacked as the respective Julau and Tebrau division chiefs effective immediately.

The PKR leader suggested Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had likely enticed the two to defect, as he accused the PN chief of bribing or extorting for support in a bid to stay in power.

“The central leadership had today discussed the legal action that has and will be taken against the duo who contested on a PKR ticket but instead had betrayed the mandate of voters and left the party,” Saifuddin said in a statement issued on WhatsApp.

“What is clear here, while the Covid-19 pandemic spreads and the economy remains sombre, Emergency is used as a way to keep a government that has lost majority support in power by buying time to get support of MPs either by extortion or offers of positions and incentives,” he added.

Muhyiddin announced the defections earlier this evening shortly after photographs of him with Julau MP Larry Sng and Tebrau MP Steven Choong emerged online.

He said to have received the statutory declarations from two Opposition members of parliament stating their support for the Perikatan Nasional government, and that the SDs were delivered to him after a gathering of the Cabinet to mark the one-year anniversary of the PN administration in Putrajaya.

Muhyiddin, who is the prime minister, expressed hope that the defection would bolster the PN government in its efforts to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and rebuild the economy.

Saifuddin, however, said having Sng and Choong on PN’s side will do little to save Muhyiddin’s position, claiming that the prime minister is still without majority support in Parliament.

“Despite the betrayal of the two MPs, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must realise that the majority of MPs are no longer with him,” the PKR leader said.

“He should not put any more effort to keep this weak government in power but instead should respectfully resign in accordance with the Federal Constitution.”

It was not immediately clear which PN party the two defectors would join but former Barisan Nasional component Gerakan appeared to be a natural fit. - malaymail

Muhyiddin: Declaration of emergency not due to politics

 Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has insisted the Emergency declaration was a necessary one.— Bernama pic

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has insisted the Emergency declaration was a necessary one.— Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 —  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has stressed that the declaration of Emergency in the country was an appropriate move taken in response to a major health crisis and not due to politics.

The Prime Minister said the Emergency was not to enable him to hold on to the post of prime minister but to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic could be managed effectively and speedily.

He gave an assurance that the emergency would be lifted earlier than its scheduled end of Aug 1 if the pandemic could be contained and the country was deemed safe from the virus.

“... if we can settle it early (and) the Independent Special Committee that was set up says it can be done (lifted), I will just follow We also do not want to be restricted by such a regulation forever,” said Muhyiddin in a special interview with Bernama and several other media organisations at his residence in Bukit Damansara here in conjunction with his first anniversary as prime minister. The interview was aired on Buletin Bernama over Bernama TV at 8 pm today.

Muhyiddin said via the Emergency Ordinance, the government can propose amendments to certain acts or enact new regulations in the form of ordinance without having to go through Parliament which would take a long time.

“So, I would like to say that this does not mean the emergency is to enable me to hold the prime minister’s post for a long time. I also do not know which party now has more seats than me; previously there was an attempt to show (the numbers) but it was not proven.

“I am confident that I have a big support. I am convinced that my position is constitutionally right. Legal. I cannot sit as an illegitimate prime minister. That’s because I do my work properly. So, I’m not worried about that.

“But the declaration of emergency was not a question of politics; Some politicians view it as political, (but) no. Politics should not be used for emergency, but this Covid requires (declaration of) an emergency So, I hope the people understand; it was not due to the fear of not getting a majority in Parliament,” he added.

The Prime Minister said the 15th general election would be held at a suitable time because the priority now is to overcome the Covid-19 threat, which has infected almost 300,000 people and claimed more than 1,000 lives in the country.

“ the important thing is we settle this (Covid) first. When we are done with it, I don’t want to wait even a day (to hold elections) we are not worried at all ...,” he said.

The first Covid-19 case was reported in Malaysia on Jan 25 last year, with the first wave involving imported cases, while the second wave struck at the end of February the same year.

There was a spike in Covid-19 cases during the third wave which occurred in September last year after the Sabah state election.

After the daily positive cases surged from double digits to thousands, the prime minister advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare an emergency. On Jan 12, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah declared the Proclamation of Emergency which will be in force until Aug 1.

The emergency is a proactive measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 and will be lifted earlier if new Covid-19 cases could be effectively controlled and reduced.

Al-Sultan Abdullah also consented to the government’s proposal to set up the Independent Special Committee to advise him accordingly if the emergency can be ended earlier. The committee comprises government and opposition Members of Parliament, and health experts.

The following are excerpts of the interview with the Prime Minister.

Q: The declaration of emergency to control Covid-19 continues to be used as a political fodder, including by partners in the PN government, purportedly because the PN government resorted to using the emergency because it had lost majority support in Parliament. What is Tan Sri’s comment?

A: Yes, first we decided to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong based on grounds that are quite reasonable and appropriate for this time. If you remember, when we wanted to do it the first time around, His Majesty did not give his consent, but agreed on the second occasion. Why? Because the Covid situation was very concerning; it still worries us. That’s why we asked for the declaration of emergency, so that with it we can use provisions of the Emergency Ordinance to manage the Covid-19 problem faster. This is because with the Emergency Ordinance, the government can propose amendments to several acts or new matters to be enacted in the form of ordinance, to be taken to the Cabinet, then to the Agong.

Agong gives his consent, it gets gazetted the next day and can be implemented. We can if we want to wait for the Parliament process, but normally it takes a long time, but with Covid you cannot wait until tomorrow; it must be settled today.

That is why when we made the decision to enforce, we amended Act 342, Act 446. Act 342 is on health, for example, if previously the maximum fine was RM1,000, big or small (offences) RM1,000 only. It has been amended to provide for a maximum of RM10,000 or if it involves companies and the like, it can go up to RM50,000. What’s the purpose? To control and for enforcement to check violations and so forth.

Or previously the army cannot make arrests; if they want to help the police they cannot do anything. So, we empower them to detain and arrest according to the existing police powers. But these are not normal times, our hospitals are at breaking point and they are running out of capacity. So, what should we do? We built temporary hospitals, MAEPS for example. With this power, we can take temporary possession of private hospitals, including their beds, equipment, doctors and nurses. It can be done with this (ordinance); that’s why we used this approach. But the good thing in our country is that although we have this Act, they are willing to help voluntarily. Now we get an additional 1,300 beds; just calculate how many millions we have to spend if we want to build 1,300 (beds).

We can use (their) ambulances, which they were unlikely to provide but because of the emergency act, we can use them. So, there are many other matters which we have done, and then we found that among the major problems in this Covid battle is non-compliance with Act 446 by employers.

What is Act 446? It deals with human resources; in the Human Resource Ministry there is an act compelling employers to provide suitable accommodation (for workers). Almost 70% did not abide by it. Without Covid it may not be apparent, but when Covid struck, non-compliance caused cases to burst out here and there.

Now that we have made a minor amendment to the act, we can take action fast. What we want to present to the Agong for his consent now is on (combating) Covid fake news. We drafted the act within a week; the AG (Attorney-General) did it all, the Cabinet will approve and it will be presented to the Agong. If the Agong gives his consent, signs it and after it is gazetted, the authorities will have the power to detain, arrest or take immediate action against anyone who creates all sorts of Covid stories which are fake news.

What I’m saying is, it does not mean the emergency is meant for me to occupy the Prime Minister’s seat for a long time. I also do not know which party now has more seats than me. Previously, there was an attempt to show (the numbers) but it was not proven. I am confident that I have a big support.

I’m convinced that my position is constitutionally right. Legal. I cannot be an illegitimate PM. I do my work properly, that’s why. So, I’m not worried about it. But the declaration of emergency was not a question of politics. Some politicians view it as political, (but) no. Politics should not be used for an emergency, but this Covid requires (declaration) an emergency.

With the powers of the Emergency Ordinance, we can act more effectively; once it (Covid) is settled, we do not need it anymore. The previous emergency was an open emergency, no time period was fixed. I set Aug 1, but if it can be resolved early, the Independent Special Committee that was established says it can be done (lifted), I will just follow.

It’s not that I want to occupy the seat for two years although the previous emergency stretched for two years. We do not need that. Once we have achieved what we set out to do, we will go back to normal. We too do not want to be restricted forever by such a regulation. That’s why my aim was not that. So, I hope the people understand; it’s not a question of being scared of not getting a majority in Parliament.

People went to Parliament to challenge me, saying I did not enjoy majority support. Our Supply (Budget) Bill was approved 27 times. I don’t mean to boast; it’s on record in Parliament, Budget 2021 was passed. How did it get approved if there was no majority? So, I hope the people do not doubt, because I know my position and I am only discharging my duty, the mandate to look after the rakyat. This is what I’m doing now.

Q: Epidemiologists say it will take about a year after the start of vaccination before normal life is back to order. Do you foresee the General Election being held this year?

A: It will be subject to all those things. First things first, of course, to see to it that we can manage Covid. If Covid is flattened, the country is said to be safe from this pandemic, that’s what we are hoping for. That is first. The second question on when the emergency will end depends on the work of the Independent Special Committee, whose objective is solely on that. When there is information from health authorities that everything is okay, the majority out there has been vaccinated or even if not all have immunised but the rate has dropped to, say, double digits; then reports from experts, epidemiologists say Malaysia is clear, okay, we will end it.

It is not the government who will decide. The committee will advise the Agong, that now that is over, we can end the emergency, back to normal.

And regarding the third question on the General Election (GE), according to the constitution, when the ruling government feels there is a need to hold a GE, the prime minister will advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament. If the Agong gives his consent based on the advice, then only Parliament will be dissolved.

The question is when? Can you answer that? When the time is right; that’s why first things first, let’s settle this Covid first. See what happened in Sabah previously? We were not bothered because our law says we need to hold the (state) election. So, even until now it (Covid) is not settled yet. Then by-elections were required to be held there, that is in Bugaya and Batu Sapi, (but) the fear of Covid forced us to suspend the polls so, the important thing is we settle this first. When we are done with it, I do not want to wait even a day. We are not worried about anything, that is most important. — Bernama

Muhyiddin shows his mettle in his first year as Prime Minister


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took the bull by the horns in his first year in office to keep a deadly pandemic at bay as he micro-managed to put food on the table for Malaysians and ensure no one is left behind.

The Prime Minister, who helms the Perikatan Nasional government, has procured the vaccine for the Covid-19 disease and provided up to RM300bil in stimulus aid packages to ensure the survival of the people in a year of unprecedented difficulties.

In a special interview with several media organisations on his first year in office, Muhyiddin, 73, recalled the immediate challenges he had to face, especially the negative perception of the people towards him and, even worse, the demand by his political foes for his resignation purportedly over waning support from the MPs.

However, he ignored the odds and bad-mouthing and went ahead with his plans to take the country to greater heights, gaining more confidence among the people as he brought in the Covid-19 vaccine and he took the first shot to dispel any fear over immunisation.

Muhyiddin had taken over the leadership of the nation at a time when the world and country faced a difficult situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"InsyaAllah (God willing), the Perikatan government completing one year in office with me as the prime minister is something that I had least expected, but it is all the will of Allah SWT," he said in the interview at his residence in Bukit Damansara.

The interview was also carried on the Buletin Bernama news segment over Bernama TV and other television channels at 8pm Sunday (Feb 28).

Muhyiddin, who became Malaysia's eighth prime minister on March 1,2020, said he discharged his duties and responsibilities for the sake of the people and nation.

"I'm doing what is best for the nation. I know that I carry a trust. I have to fulfil that trust... although I was not elected in a normal election. Somebody had the mandate but (following) a crisis, I was appointed (as the prime minister)," he said.Muhyiddin found himself in an extraordinary position that demanded immediate action and a different approach by the government in comparison to previous governments.

He went to work to keep the Covid-19 threat at bay and ensure that the people had jobs and food on the table, and the economy, security and public order as well as unity were maintained.

Striving hard to manage the Covid-19 pandemic through the whole-of-society approach, Muhyiddin was determined to do the best for the people and nation despite the challenge of realising the desire for Malaysia to be a developed nation by 2030.

"I will do my best. I want to leave my legacy not for my own self, (but) for my country during my tenure. I'll do the best for the country.

"So, that's my commitment and I can tell Malaysians that I will be committed to upholding my responsibility as the prime minister. I'll do my very best. I'll fight against corruption. I'll not interfere in any judiciary, (not) interfere in the courts. I will do what is best for the country," said Muhyiddin, who is the MP for Pagoh.

In a straightforward tone throughout the interview, the Prime Minister explained the measures and actions taken by the Perikatan government to address the Covid-19 pandemic through the whole-of-society approach which requires all quarters to work together with the government to handle the problem.

He said that via the committees under the National Security Council (MKN), Economic Action Council and other related committees, meetings and discussions were held daily to manage Covid-19 and its impact on the country.

Expressing gratitude over the smooth running of the government administration, he said civil servants were committed to carrying out their responsibilities and that security and public order were under control and unity was unaffected.

He also expressed gratitude to the people and advised them to remain united and resolute, and be together to face the pandemic.

Muhyiddin said the most immediate and extraordinary action of the Perikatan government was to enforce the movement control order (MCO) on March 18,2020, followed by several levels of the MCO to balance the lives and livelihood of the people and every sector affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic struck the country on Jan 25,2020, with the first wave of infections involving import cases. The second wave hit at the end of February 2020. The disease progressed to the third wave in the middle of September 2020. The number of cases kept rising to reach a height of 5,725 on Jan 29 this year.

In the interview lasting almost an hour, Muhyiddin, who is president of Bersatu, was asked a wide range of questions pertaining to the government and national administration, management of Covid-19, the economic stimulus packages and government initiatives to help the people, the people's acceptance and achievements of the Perikatan government, the Proclamation of Emergency, Malaysia's foreign policy as well as his aspirations.

He was also asked about the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme which reflects the determination of the Perikatan government to ensure the well-being of the people.

Muhyiddin was the first person in the country to be vaccinated against Covid-19, on Feb 24. He wanted to dispel any fear over immunisation against the disease. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was also vaccinated on that day.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

Question: It has been a year since the Covid-19 pandemic struck the country. What action did the government take? Are you, Tan Sri, hopeful that the battle against the pandemic can be won with the arrival of the vaccine?

Answer: Although we were inexperienced in dealing with such an unprecedented situation, the past year has taught the government and the people what we should do to address this Covid-19 problem.

Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), we are still enforcing standard operating procedures (SOPs); we are imposing controls such as the MCO, conditional MCO), enhanced MCO and recovery MCO. We have had many MCOs.

Alhamdulillah, these measures have enabled us to exercise control compared with other countries.

Alhamdulillah, now, after almost a year of relatively variable conditions, I wish to emphasise two important matters in the management of Covid-19.

Firstly, we have collected a lot of data, the statistics we have compiled, (such as) on the location of the cases, clusters in the community that we reported daily, because we adopted an open, transparent attitude, not concealing data. We wanted to tell the people the actual situation.

Secondly, our considerations were based on science, taking into account why we had to do what, because some members of the public may understand and some may not. Now, after almost a year, it seems that our decisions have been effective in addressing the problem and, on the average, the people's acceptance has been good.

Additionally, we also consider in terms of data and cases, such as why (Covid-19) cases occur at workplaces or at the living quarters of workers. So, we know. Our decisions are based on scientific data and facts.

From one aspect, I feel we have succeeded in managing the Covid-19 problem. We have seen the impact on our economy. Everyone has felt the impact, to the extent of people being unable to work or losing jobs. Measures to manage the economy must be balanced between Covid-19 and the economy.

Closing businesses can cause the economy to collapse; keeping them open can invite Covid-19 infection. So, how do you strike a balance? Alhamdulillah, we held discussions daily.

Even with the ministers in attendance, I kept moving from the MKN (National Security Council) meeting on Covid-19 to the MKN meeting on the Emergency and the Economic Action Council meeting to manage the problem and discuss ways to help the people like how we have done so far.

Q: How do you, Tan Sri, see the government's achievements? On a scale of 1 to 5, where do you place the Perikatan administration's performance upon evaluation? What is the achievement that you can be most proud of in the first year of your administration?

A: I cannot say that I have achieved a 5. It is important that the people evaluate whether the government has taken the necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that the major matters have been given attention and not neglected.

Secondly, there has been an impact, an outcome said to be most positive for the people. For example, there is a vaccine for Covid-19. I was the first (in the country) to take the vaccine. It is not just a matter of managing the problem.

Is the vaccine the solution to our problem? I hope so. For me, it is a huge success. We have rolled out (the vaccine). Don't ask me the cost. I have never questioned the billions of ringgit spent to procure the vaccine. If there is a need for one more billion ringgit, I will provide the allocation because we are talking of people's lives here. I regard even one death as a huge loss. I want the people to live.

In Malaysia, every single soul is important. Where do we stand? If you ask me, we are doing well. If there are people saying we have done the best, well and good. If there are people saying abah (father, in reference to the prime minister) is the best, well and good. That's the people's evaluation but more importantly it is what the government has done. For me, no one is left behind. It is important for the people to know that we pay attention, even down to the individual operating a stall.

The stimulus package that has been provided is almost RM300bil. The previous administration provided RM20bil. The people are saying the RM300bil is not enough.

I would say that our achievement over the past year was quite satisfactory. The administration functioned well. We did not overlook anything major, including matters pertaining to the education, social, health, economic, security and unity aspects. We are giving emphasis to matters which need primary attention. That's what we are doing now.

Q: A year has passed. What do you, Tan Sri, think of the people's acceptance of all the initiatives implemented by the government with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic?

A: We conduct surveys. My officers also do analyses, analytics on the people's reaction to everything that happens. I think, generally, they are satisfied in the matter of managing the Covid-19 pandemic. They don't like it when the Covid-19 cases rise but are happy when the numbers fall. If you consider the whole year, I believe the people feel more comfortable and safer. That's important for me.

Secondly, their livelihood. Do they have food on the table? I think that is important. Let there be no Malaysian who goes hungry. If that happens, I have failed. That's why we have all kinds of direct aid, the latest being Permai, food baskets, cash aid, aid for business, capital. Now, we have reopened almost all sectors of our economy, save for one of two.

The people should be grateful, not because the government has acted in this way but because this is our effort together. I cannot succeed doing these on my own. The government officers cannot succeed doing these by themselves. However, with the combined effort of the government, people, officers and all quarters, we can succeed because this is what is called the whole-of-society approach, not just whole-of-government approach. It means everyone must work together to address the problems we face.

I feel, based on the numerous surveys that we have done, that the people are satisfied with what the government is doing.

Q: Tan Sri, you mentioned about no one left behind. In the span of one year, the government has provided all kinds of assistance. In the span of the next one year, do you think there will be people who may have been left behind, who may feel they have been marginalised?

A: That's right. I chair the meetings of the Economic Action Council. I ask to be tabled the direction for aid that is going to be given to the people. In the context of the present national problems, among them due to Covid-19, the impact on the people is enormous.

I think those people whom we have categorised as B40, the lower 40%, have become the B50. Probably M40 remains as M40. Ten% of the T20 has slid to becoming middle-income earners. I have to acknowledge this problem, not because of my actions but due to the problems facing the country.

That should be the focus from now. While we help the rest to recover, the economy to recover, to solve this Covid-19 problem, we have to look at this certain category of society that is most affected. Billions of ringgit in aid have been and are being given but it does not seem to be helpful enough. So, the strategy I have adopted is how to address the problem of poverty.

There are two categories – urban poverty and rural poverty. In the past, rural poverty was more pronounced as people in the cities could earn more. Now, urban poverty has a more severe impact than rural poverty because the urban people are unable to sustain themselves.

Almost 52% of poverty is urban because a portion of these poor people are overlooked as our data system is not up to date. The poor are not entered in the records. While there are people who have received aid once, twice or even thrice, there are others who have not received anything at all. I find this in the system, which we have to update.

Then there's the question of how to make the economy recover while addressing the Covid-19 situation. I see that the tourism sector is almost inactive because of the restriction on inter-state movement.

Once, we allowed inter-state movement and the highways were packed with people, going to Langkawi and elsewhere. I was happy.

However, soon after that we restricted inter-state movement. The minister (in charge of tourism Datuk Seri) Nancy (Shukri) appealed to allow inter-state movement. I wanted to do so but the Health Ministry requested to put it on hold. So, we had to consider. This is the worst of the sectors to be hit. Looking at projections, it may take two to four years to recover.

Other than that, we want to attract investments. Our studies show the people are worried that they may wake up one day to find they are unemployed. They may go to the office and find the employer saying "I'm so sorry, you have to go". That will be a loss.

I have to take this into account. It is not just a macro issue; it is a question of national growth, development. Our GDP has shrunk. We hope it will increase. How can we make that happen? There must be investments flowing in, industries must resume operations, exports must rise. That's the question of the economy. Then, the other sectors such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture and such must grow. All are affected.

So, we have to slowly look into this. How do we manage this thing? It's more than just macro; it's micro-managing every economic sector. This is what we have begun to do.

Q: The present government is more people-based, focusing on the people. Perhaps what you, Tan Sri, are saying could be made a manifesto. Besides the Shared Prosperity Vision, what else do you think can be done?

A: That's what I explained earlier. What we are focusing on, what we want to see is the reactivation of all economic sectors from now on. They want to resume but there are problems with the bank. For example, if we go to the micro level, then we have to request the banks for help. We have gone ahead with the moratoriums, the EPF withdrawal, etc. We want to see our major economic sectors reactivated. The social and education sectors are among those severely affected. Schools have started to reopen.

Ministries have been instructed to focus more on matters that are related to the people, economy and business. For example, if there is too much bureaucracy and it takes months or years to get approvals, it will only foil our efforts.

I have instructed the Chief Secretary to the Government, as the chairman of a special committee, to determine the bureaucratic red tape that is causing delays. Things done in normal times are not applicable now. We have to amend or discard the old to expedite the process. These are drastic measures that we are taking at the federal level. We are also asking the states to assist to do things faster because the people cannot wait even a day. It can be torturous. They can fall into poverty, close their business. Reopening businesses is not easy. I understand all these.

We will focus on these although we have the Shared Prosperity Vision so that there is a balance in the distribution of wealth among the people. I am going to the extent of ensuring that we can rise again quickly. According to projections, there will be GDP growth going into the second, third and fourth quarters. InsyaAllah.

Q: Since the enforcement of the MCO for almost a year, have you missed meeting the people face-to-face?

A: Yes. The other day, I wanted to visit my constituency, Pagoh. My officers reminded me that the MCO is in force. We can meet virtually. The people are good at that. However, the impact is lost because we have to see them (face-to-face). That's why we are focusing on finding ways to end the Covid-19 pandemic quickly.

Eventually we will only have the RMCO and then the MCO will be no more. However, we have to observe the SOP until the epidemiologists and the Health Ministry tell us that the country is clear of Covid-19. We can then go back to doing things we normally do, shaking hands, hugging one another. That's what we are looking forward to.

The plans that we have now are most important. I do not want the MCO and SOPs to be there forever. Once things are OK, not only I but the people too want to return to a normal life, being able to eat out, do business, engage in sports and recreation like what we have done before. But we cannot do all that until we can overcome the huge challenge our country is facing.

Q: The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme reflects the determination of the Perikatan government to ensure the well-being of the people in navigating through the difficult times of the pandemic. Many have expressed confidence over the vaccine. What are your hopes for the success of this programme?

A: I hope everyone who should be vaccinated can be given the vaccine. I have appealed for the people to come forward to register on the MySejahtera application, and not to be concerned, doubtful or afraid to do so. The government has decided that all our people can be vaccinated free. We will also vaccinate the foreign nationals residing in our country so that they do not spread the infection to our citizens.

So, now that is the decision. My hope is that all quarters will assist in the immunisation exercise so that we achieve our target of immunising 80% of Malaysians and 100% of those who should be vaccinated. I was informed that at least 60% of the people must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Going by the initial response, according to a Health Ministry survey, 67% of the people were agreeable to be vaccinated. Then the vaccine arrived, and I got vaccinated. The positive response for people to get vaccinated went up to 80%. This is an encouraging trend.

However, the period for the immunisation exercise is long, up to early next year. If everything goes as planned and the vaccines we have purchased arrive on time, more people can get vaccinated and it will be for the good of all.

That's why I see this vaccine rollout exercise as very important. It is the biggest ever rollout of vaccine campaign at any time in the country and involving everybody without exception. I wish to express my gratitude to the ministers concerned, KJ (Khairy Jamaluddin, coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme) and (Datuk Seri) Dr Adham (Baba, Health Minister), the Health Ministry, DG (Dr Noor Hisham) and everyone else, including the logistics involving many quarters to drive our effort. The 600 vaccination centres and 50 vaccine storage facilities demand a great deal of work but right now everything looks good.

Q: We still have people who are the naysayers when it comes to vaccines, spreading fake news from social media about it. Do you see this as a bump on the road or a big issue which should be addressed?

A: I admit there is some problem on this because in any society there is bound to be a group which disagrees, but my hope is that there will not be a big group influenced by the anti-vaccine campaign. The various issues raised might create anxiety, fear of dying which can discourage people from getting vaccinated, but what is important is the people's readiness.

What the government is doing now is to help them; do not reject this effort. Like me, I now feel more confident. I'm not saying I'm safe already but at least I know that my body possesses antibodies to fight against any viral attack. But without it (vaccination), we can't fight and will fall sick.

That's why it is important to me, and I believe the campaign will be well received because we have mobilised all of society, NGOs, community leaders, village heads, the Rukun Tetangga (Neighbourhood Watch) sector, so that all involved can spread this good news and urge people to immediately sign up via the MySejahtera application.

Q: Being the Prime Minister, leading a country of 30 million people, even in normal conditions, is not easy. But to do it during a global pandemic, amidst political uncertainty, and for you personally, what motivated you to accept the challenge, and still drive you to continue every day?

A: It's all by the grace of Allah (God). I never dreamt (that I will be the prime minister one day). But after I was appointed, I knew this is a trust, which is a big responsibility. I realised it is the most important post in the nation.

When entrusted with the responsibility, I know that as a Muslim I cannot ignore it. I will be questioned in the hereafter what I did for my people as the prime minister. How can I answer that?

I'm doing what is best for the nation. I know that I carry a trust. I have to fulfil that trust... although I was not elected in a normal election. Somebody had the mandate but (following) a crisis, I was appointed (as the prime minister).

I must fulfil this sense of responsibility and trust. I cannot, as you know, neglect the responsibility and rest happily at home as the PM. I can tell you that from day one I am here, being a PM one is thinking what can be done to save this country.

This motivation is for nothing else because you have to do it; you cannot fail. If I fail, the nation fails. If the nation fails, the people will suffer, right? That's why it is a very heavy thing. Some people might envy you (for being the PM). It is not that I am not grateful, but this is a burden, a trust. I am tested. Every time I pray, I ask Allah to continue giving me guidance and to help me in my daily affairs. I have faith that everything can only happen if God allows it, InsyaAllah. This is my strong conviction to Islam, my religion.

Q: Final question, what is Tan Sri's hope for the rakyat and Malaysia?

A: My hope is that Malaysia will return to normalcy like before; in fact, more than that to be an excellent and prosperous country enjoying rapid development. That is why I rolled out the MyDigital initiative and various other plans because, to me, once we have overcome this problem, we have finished an episode and need to look forward.

What is important is where Malaysia would be 10,20 years from now. Compared with other countries, by right we should have been ahead but, unfortunately, Malaysia is still lagging. I accept it is our fault but that is our situation. Take China, Japan, Korea, for example. At one time Koreans came to Malaysia to study how to develop, but now they have overtaken us. Our per capita income is still small compared to that of other countries. Why is this so?

Poverty still exists in the country. To me, this is a big challenge. This is no trivial matter; that is why I am committed that you give me this job, I will do my best. And I don't mean to boast but you can see my record that wherever I was placed, whichever ministry, I will do my best. I want to leave my legacy not for my own self, (but) for my country during my tenure. I'll do the best for the country. That is why to me the important thing is, let's all get together; there must be cooperation from the people with a strong spirit of solidarity and total commitment. And I believe we will succeed.

Malaysia will be among the most developed countries. We targeted to achieve developed status by 2020 but failed to achieve it. Now that we have the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, let's see what happens in 10 years' time. So, that's my commitment, and I can tell Malaysians that I will be committed to upholding my responsibility as PM. I'll do my very best; I will fight corruption; I will not interfere in any judiciary, (not) interfere in the courts. I will do what is the best for the country. InsyaAllah. – Bernama