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The Movement Control Order (MCO) will be extended by another two weeks, until April 14. -NSTP/FAIZ ANUAR
The Movement Control Order (MCO) will be extended by another two weeks, until April 14. -NSTP/FAIZ ANUAR

AS widely anticipated, the Movement Control Order (MCO) will be extended by another two weeks, until April 14. Announcing this yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stressed that the decision came after much deliberation with medical and security experts.

Fresh from entering the office, among his chief tasks was to stem the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak. Subsequently, Muhyiddin must ensure the effectiveness of his cabinet in mitigating the effects of an extended MCO on the population and economy.

Certainly a tall order for any leader. Given his calm demeanour on live television, it is an order Muhyiddin appears to accept with equanimity. At a time of grave crisis as this, a leader needs to project cool reassurance, lest the man and woman on the street panic.

One may be forgiven if he feels the government is losing control of the situation, and as such, a two-week extension is needed. But let’s not be hasty in judgment. Think about it.

The hundred-plus daily additions to the Covid-19 tally are worrying. Up to yesterday, 172 new cases were reported, bringing the tally to 1,796 infections, while the death toll rose to 20. The figures indicate the contagion is yet to peak in Malaysia. The extension is, thus, a necessary precaution.

It will be combined with a much wider rollout of mass screening to weed out those infected and isolate them. After all, 409 premises have been gazetted as quarantine centres to accommodate the expected increase in the number of persons under investigation.

“Locking down” seems to be a method that has worked, particularly in China and South Korea, the two worst-affected nations earlier, to break off the virus’ chain of transmission.

This Leader therefore supports the move, despite the pains it would inflict on us, and the greater disruption to everyday economic activity. In times of national peril such as now, Malaysians must rally behind their government. We need to set aside political differences and focus on defeating the enemy virus in our midst.

As the prime minister rightly said, this calls for sacrifices from each and everyone of us, from changing our accustomed lifestyle to adjusting the way we normally interact with distant loved ones and creatively seeking ways to further cement family bonds — all by way of staying at home.

Muhyiddin also served up comforting words that no one would be left behind when he announces an expanded economic rescue package next week. Collectively, we shall overcome this. We are in this together and share a common goal to rid the country of Covid-19.

It is heart-warming to note how Malaysians are banding together in support of our frontliners who are out there risking their lives so that we can see an end to Covid-19.

As this Leader once said, there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 cloud. We see many Malaysians coming out to help in one way or another, to ease the pains and sufferings of others during this MCO. This is such a rare unity of purpose — we must build on this. It is a golden opportunity that we cannot afford to miss

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