PEMACU WACANA: Can We Survive Another Lockdown?

A Webinar brought to you by: Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (MASA)

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 June 2021 – More than 100 Malaysians from all walks of life were present at today’s webinar PEMACU Wacana with the theme “Can We Survive Another Lockdown?” organized by Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (MASA). The independent think-tank promotes conversations and opinions, widens public discourse, advocates sharing of knowledge and experience whilst obtaining insights from Malaysians at all levels.

The PEMACU Wacana is part of the PEMACU series which is a comprehensive outreach programme to promote shared prosperity values and the vision to key influencers, scholars, opinion makers, policy social leaders, communicators, corporate leaders, professionals, public servants, civil society organizations, students, youths and experts on a common platform

There have been many debates and conversations worldwide on balancing health reasons to lock down the country due to the pandemic Covid-19 and letting the economic activities carried on. The Covid-19 pandemic which started back in March 2020 has crippled our country’s economy, leading to disruptions across various industries. Due to the nationwide lockdowns, we’ve seen a cessation in a huge swath of our economic sectors, some closed temporarily whilst others permanently.

Despite more leniency with the current lockdown, the disallowing of daily activities have given a great blow to our already tired and bruised businesses, workers, students, parents, and families bringing about social ills such as depression, mental health, domestic violence, crime due to loss of jobs, etc.
Sharing insights from the economic sector, Professor Dr. Jamal Othman, who is the Professor of Economics from UKM and a Senior Fellow with MASA shared data and insights on how the pandemic has affected our economy.

“Without adequate government support packages and presuming a four-week lockdown similar to MCO 1.0, the economy would stand to endure a loss in GDP of about RM265 million per day or RM92 billion per year. Government intervention and assistance are paramount to prevent such deterioration. I expect Malaysia to prevail in sustaining its economic situation, following the uptick in economic growth globally”. he said.

From the medical health perspective, two panelists shared their ground experience on the pandemic Covid-19 has brought about. A mental health and addiction treatment expert panelist, Dr. Prem Kumar Shanmugam shared his wisdom and experience on this subject.

He said “The pandemic has caused disruptions to life and livelihood globally, and Malaysia is not left behind. His presentation looks briefly at life for the Malaysian population before and during the pandemic propaganda, from the perspective of mental health. Further discussions will also shed light on the impact of the virus outbreak on our lives and livelihood, and how we have become resilient and adapted to change as a result. What’s next moving forward is implementing a balanced lifestyle to ensure continued all-round growth”.

Dr. Hariyati Shahrima Abdul Majid, a consultant on mental health and social support from MERCY Malaysia shared that MERCY Malaysia has prepared a series of self-care support and other preparedness programmes particularly for vulnerable groups like the elderly, caregivers, OKUs, etc. which can be adopted to look after oneself during these lockdowns to keep spirits up and prevent mental health from creeping in. She quoted, “At the very core of a resilient community is its mental health. A resilient community has the psychological resources to mobilize effective coping strategies, adapt and adjust to changes, and bounce back after adversity. They became stronger, healthier together as a community”.
Meanwhile, another panelist, Mr. Chin Chee Seong, the National Vice President of SME Association of Malaysia shared his views from the SMEs livelihoods viewpoint. “SME Association of Malaysia expects 50,000 more SMEs may be driven out of business should the MCO 3.0 be extended another six weeks. The government should not only aid but also make work application approval to be more streamlined and easier”, he said.

The event was moderated by Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, a national journalism Laurette and former Chairman of Prima Media Berhad. He concluded, “We can agree that Malaysia will be able to survive this lockdown but it all depend on how long the lockdown will last and the amount of government assistance”.

During the event, a participant, Ahmad Azuar, asked the panelist whether the country should include measurements such as the Happiness Index rather than too focused on GDP. Answering the question, Prof Jamal suggests that we use alternative indicators such as the Genuine Progress Indicator to replace our over-reliance on the GDP. Dr. Haryati agreed and said that the key to surviving the lockdown is building economic and mental resilience.

Summarizing the event, organizer Tunku Azela Tunku Aziz, Interim CEO of MASA stressed that the breadth and depth of the assistance provided during lockdown will be the critical juncture – the government has to strike a delicate balance between its responsibility of protecting the populace from the virus and achieving Shared Prosperity Vision 2030’s goals of development for all and addressing wealth & income disparity.

Tunku Azela invited those who are interested in the same cause to participate in MASA’s upcoming public programmes by visiting www.institutmasa.com or through social media on Facebook and Instagram @institutmasa.
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