PETALING JAYA, Oct 9: A researcher at a think tank claims that a general election is the only way to quell perceived public frustration over current political and economic uncertainties.
Carmelo Ferlito, a fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, said there was much nervousness over the current administration’s slim majority in Parliament and added that he believed a new and more stable government would be in a better position to deal with economic anxieties caused by Covid-19.
“The country needs political and economic stability to move forward,” he told FMT.
But he said it would be fair to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration to note that it took firm steps at the initial stage of the pandemic by ordering a lockdown and arranging a six-month moratorium on bank loans.
However, he blamed the movement control order (MCO) for much of the current economic uncertainties, manifested in part by rising unemployment.
“And people are now unhappy that the loan moratorium has not been extended,” he added.
He also said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s claim to have majority support in the Dewan Rakyat had worsened political uncertainties.
He urged the government to move into a recovery stage to improve the economy, such as by allowing foreign businesses into the country.
“Singapore is opening its borders because its economy is collapsing,” he said. “Malaysia needs to move to the recovery stage of the economy. For that, the government needs a strong mandate from the people.”
Social activist Haris Ibrahim said public unhappiness had been growing since the sudden change of government in February.
“After that, as we were facing the pandemic, politicians were given positions at GLCs at a time when businesses and people were suffering from the effects of the MCO,” he told FMT.
He criticised both sides of the political divide for their current preoccupation with taking or maintaining control of the government, saying it was causing them to ignore the needs of the public.
“This is indeed a recipe for unhappiness among the rakyat, who are struggling even more due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Noor Farida Ariffin, a member of the G25 activist group of former civil servants, said some public unhappiness was due to a double standard in the enforcement of rules associated with the fight against Covid-19.
She noted that many citizens had been arrested and fined for not following SOPs and alleged that politicians in power could openly breach rules and go scot free.
She questioned enforcement authorities’ delay in acting against Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali when he breached the 14-day isolation rule after returning from Turkey in July.
He was eventually fined RM1,000, but only after public pressure had mounted.
She appealed to police to be firm with errant politicians. “If double standards are practised, the cases may go up again,” she said.