PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has suggested a postponement of plans to allow extra business sections to resume operations during the national shutdown.
He said in view of public apprehension, a postponement of a week would be prudent to allow the government to assess the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Take a look at the Covid-19 situation a week from now before making a decision,” he said in an online posting tonight.
The government has said that certain businesses would be allowed to resume operations during the third phase of the movement control order beginning on April 15.
However, concerns have arisen about the impact of business activities on the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Najib questioned whether Malaysia’s economy could survive a shutdown as long as the 11 weeks in Wuhan city and Hubei province, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began.
He said that while Wuhan and Hubei were in lockdown, other regions in China continued to support the country’s economy.
“We have to face the reality that it is extremely difficult for us to reach a zero level of new infections. We can only reduce the number of new cases to the minimum and below the maximum capacity of our health system,”he said.
“Finding a balance between health and the economy is not easy.”
He suggested that extra aid be provided to small traders, who he said were hardest-hit by an extension of the national shutdown.
The government’s stimulus package was based on the assumption of a shutdown lasting only 2 to 4 weeks, but has been extended to 6 weeks.
If the shutdown is extended, then extra aid should be given. “Six weeks without income is no joke,” he said.