Think-tank questions Malaysia’s move to extend RMCO, with cases under control

The continued closure of Malaysian borders will have a bigger impact on the economy, says think tank.

PETALING JAYA: A think tank has expressed concern over the move to extend the recovery movement control order (RMCO) until the end of the year, saying it was not justified.

The Center for Market Education (CME) said the numbers speak to the facts on the situation in Malaysia, and that it did not call for such an extension.

“First of all, the Covid-19 numbers in Malaysia are under control. In the past two months, the 7-day moving average of daily Covid-19 cases in Malaysia has been constantly below 15, while the 7-day moving average of daily deaths has been below 0.14 and never above 0 since Aug 7.

“This means that there is no spike to be recorded and people are not dying,” CME head Carmelo Ferlito said in a statement, acknowledging the efforts of the Malaysian healthcare system in helping to contain the threat from the disease.

Carmelo Ferlito

CME, which is an academic and educational initiative under the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), however questioned the existence of the “super-spreader” as mentioned by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in his daily Covid-19 briefings.

“The existence of a ‘super-spreader’ is not supported by Covid-19 figures (in Malaysia) and has also been contested by Singaporean scientists,” he said.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last night that the RMCO will be extended to Dec 31. This means the borders are still closed and quarantine orders will remain for anyone entering the country.

CME said the impact on the economy could have far bigger implications on Malaysians with the extension of the RMCO.

“The damage that can be inflicted on the economy and the people with the closed borders can be far bigger.

“With the end of the loan moratorium and wage subsidies, and with the end of the natural rebound following the reopening of the economy, an economic relapse in Q4 2020 is very much likely to happen and this will cause a rise in unemployment again,” Ferlito said.

He called for the government to implement policies that take into account a sound analysis on the trade-offs.

“The benefits of a certain measure are important, but the potential negative consequences are important too, and the two sides of the coin need to be weighed together in order to take balanced decisions.

“The conflict here is not between lives and the economy, as the economy is made of lives too,” he said, warning over the number of lives that could be “destroyed” due to the closed borders policy.