An overseas view of Malaysia’s Covid-19 battle

Although I am studying thousands of kilometres from my home in Parit Buntar, I still keep track of the developments back home, particularly the Covid-19 outbreak.

I am a third-year undergraduate pursuing a psychology course in Brisbane, Australia. I still have many family members and friends throughout Malaysia. Besides reading the online news about the Covid-19 outbreak, I keep track of the announcements made by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

I have never missed any of his national addresses on television which I view live on the internet despite the time difference. I must say that I am impressed with his handling of this national health crisis so far.

He comes across as sincere, speaking from the heart, and he knows which buttons to press. His tone is reassuring, even fatherly, and his messages are easily relatable.

For example, his use of the fictional “Makcik Kiah” character breaks complex government policies into bite-size ideas that are easy to comprehend, even for much simpler, rural folks. In fact, “Makcik Kiah” was a popular topic within the Malaysian student community in Brisbane for a while.

But beyond Muhyiddin’s simple yet impactful delivery, the content of his message also shows he’s got his ears on the ground. The Prihatin aid packages and stimulus package are precisely what the country needs in this time of unprecedented economic crisis.

My family runs a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and the economic impact from the movement control order has been woeful. Muhyiddin has swiftly provided safety nets for the SMEs, although some say the government could do more.

All in all, I’d commend Muhyiddin for being a steadying hand at a time of national crisis. The cancer survivor’s fighting spirit and presence of mind have been quite admirable. So for now, let’s put aside our politics and support this man who’s trying to put our interests first.

Compared with how Donald Trump advises his citizens to ingest bleach or Boris Johnson’s lax attitude in the UK towards the pandemic until it was too late, I think we are in safer hands.

Douglas Liew is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.