PETALING JAYA,Mar 23: Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has accused Putrajaya of having wasted opportunities presented by the global health crisis, as it failed to act fast enough to help the people recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Lim said the government could have taken the time to advance the country’s digitalisation, especially when students were forced to attend online classes from home.
“If we distributed tablets and ensured good internet connectivity, it could have brought about a revolution,” he said at an online forum by Dialektika TV. “But the government did not act faster and smarter. As it is, where are the 150,000 laptops for students? Until now, it has not been given out.”
Lim also questioned the delay in increasing the welfare aid for the poor to RM1,000, adding that the one-off payments under the government’s various economic packages were not sustainable.
He urged Putrajaya to involve all stakeholders, particularly the private sector, in facilitating efforts to help the public cope with the pandemic, rather than worrying about the downgrade on Malaysia’s sovereign rating.
Lim, who is MP for Bagan, said it was important for the government to care for its people first, before embarking on any other efforts to transform the country’s economy post-Covid-19.
According to him, the Pakatan Harapan government should have introduced its initiatives on creating more job opportunities and increasing workers’ wages earlier than Budget 2020, but it was too focused on settling the country’s debts at the time.
Another forum participant, economist Noor Azlan Ghazali of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said the country could not focus on going “back to normal”, as it would only bring Malaysia back to square one, with the same problems prior to the pandemic.
“We need to look at the new normal and a new economic landscape,” he said, adding that there was no need to release more economic blueprints or master plans.
Instead, Noor Azlan said the government should commit towards implementing previous proposals and fulfilling its promises to the people.