Dr Mahathir: Govt must make tough decisions, stop worrying about being unpopular

(MMO) – Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said that the Perikatan Nasional government is more interested in being popular, instead of working towards improving the country’s economy that has been hamstrung by Covid-19.

He said the government seems to have no clear direction when it comes to tackling the pandemic and the economy is continuing to falter as a consequence.

“Be it politics, economy or social the most important thing now is to handle the Covid-19 pandemic because at the moment normal life cannot resume and the economy is dying as long as the disease is out there.

“But I see the government now has no direction or focus on this Covid-19 situation. There are medical experts who have suggested they be included or the states be included in panel discussions to advise the government but this has not been done,” said Tun during a live Facebook interview on Dialektika TV today.

“But the government wants to be popular and be liked. For example, I go to the bazaar Ramadan every year without fail but this time I don’t dare to go because the SOPs are not in place.

“So many people in close proximity, if I went they would want to take pictures and shake hands. These kinds of things won’t help us curb the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said if he was still in office he would not hesitate to make the tough decisions even if he is condemned by the people.

He said things like the lockdown are unpopular but need to be done in order to curb the disease.

“The problem is whether to be popular and liked or do the right thing. To control the disease we must take steps that are unpopular but between being popular and health, I choose the latter anytime.

“It’s easy to see the differences between the first lockdown and now. Back then there were practically no cars on the streets. Now the roads are full of cars, it’s as though no one cares.

“Same goes with the prayer SOPs. In the mosque, during prayer time there’s very good adherence to social distancing. But once prayers are over I see people going to one another and greeting each other, touching each other,” he said.

Earlier in April, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Ramadan and Hari Raya bazaars nationwide will be allowed but subject to strict standard operating procedures.

The announcement received mixed reactions from interest groups and public health experts.

Some hailed the decision as good for businesses while others felt there would be a risk of more outbreaks since the bazaars would draw large crowds at a time when the rate of daily Covid-19 cases has yet to stabilise.