KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 – Anwar Ibrahim today accused former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin of failing to control the Covid-19 pandemic that saw high mortality in Malaysia despite one of the world’s longest stay-at-home orders.
Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) prime minister candidate who is contesting the Tambun federal seat in Perak in the 15th general election, said Muhyiddin’s futile pandemic strategies not only kept people from earning a living due to harsh lockdowns, but also led to one of the highest cumulative per capita deaths “in the world”.
“When Muhyiddin was in power, how long did he put the country under lockdown? How were people supposed to earn a living? Was he not aware that people were suffering? Was he not aware that people were struggling to feed their children? He was not mindful of these issues.
“That is why our lockdown during Covid was the longest in the world. But at the same time, we also have the highest number of deaths in the world – 36,000. He (Muhyiddin) should be answerable to this,” Anwar told voters in Segamat, Johor, on his nationwide campaign trail.
Contrary to Anwar’s claim, Malaysia’s death toll of 36,495 as of November 7 was the 29th highest globally in absolute figures, without adjusting for population size, according to Our World In Data.
Based on the global data tracker, Malaysia, however, has the highest Covid-19 deaths per capita among Asean countries at 1,075 deaths per million people. Indonesia’s cumulative deaths per capita is the second highest in the region at 576 deaths per million people, nearly half the numbers reported in Malaysia.
Malaysia also has one of the highest Covid death rates in Asia, behind Hong Kong and ahead of India. However, the number of cumulative Covid-19 deaths per capita in countries such as the United States and United Kingdom is much higher, with deaths per capita due to the virus hitting over 3,000 per million people, as of November 7 – triple that of Malaysia’s.
Data released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) last month showed that Covid-19 was the leading cause of death in the country last year, overtaking ischaemic heart disease as the principal cause of death during the surge of Malaysia’s epidemic in 2021.
Covid also contributed to more than half of maternal deaths and killed one in five people under the age of 40, DOSM stats revealed.
Anwar further spoke about parliamentary attendance in his speech, condemning both Muhyiddin’s and caretaker PM Ismail Sabri’s “oversized” Cabinet for being ineffective.
“They have up to 70 different ministers (and deputies) – what are they doing? Not to mention, Abdul Hadi Awang’s role as special envoy. You’re earning RM60,000, and you are missing sessions in the Dewan Rakyat. Muhyiddin is also barely in Parliament.
“In Islam, a leader has to lead by example. An elected representative must be in Parliament,” Anwar said.
The 75-year-old PKR president, in recognising that the party’s incumbent representative for Miri, Dr Michael Teo Yu Keng, had the lowest attendance record in Parliament due to illness, said PKR had replaced Dr Teo with a younger candidate in this general election.
“We have our problems too. In Miri, the incumbent was sick and he was unable to speak so he didn’t attend (Parliament). What did I do? I dropped him and replaced him with a young lawyer,” Anwar said.
PKR is fielding Sarawak PKR Youth chief Chiew Choon Man in replacement of Dr Teo, a gynaecologist and two-term Miri MP.
“Are they (Muhyiddin and Abdul Hadi) too busy to attend Parliament? If you don’t have time for Parliament then don’t be an MP. If you truly are fighting in the name of Islam, you must attend and perform your duties.”