Are you listening Mr Prime Minister?

There is an outbreak of national moaning over the silence of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin amid Malaysia’s horrifying Covid-19 crisis. As the war against the disease piles more hardship on Malaysians, his performance has been poor. Very poor. Provocatively poor, if you were to take several other national issues on which he has remained silent.

(FMT) – Day after day, he has been battered by dreadful comments for his government’s questionable implementation and poor contingency planning to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Even as his critics hammered away, Muhyiddin offered no plans. Even the hollow words have stopped.

Yesterday, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng branded him the “worst Malaysian prime minister in history” for practising a double standard by instructing premises listed under the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system to close for three days.

On Friday, Indonesia told its citizens to stay home and take precautions against the Covid-19 infection, and not to end up like Malaysia. Public anger against Muhyiddin worsened.

What would Muhyiddin have to do for his critics to take him seriously?

Perhaps, he should personally take charge of the madness. He can begin with stopping his ministers from contradicting one another and confusing the people.

Muhyiddin should realise that his decision not to connect with the public regularly during testing times may have partly led to the state of confusion and the belligerence of people who ignore Covid-19 guidance.

A leader is obliged to engage with people; make them feel safe; provide continuous feedback and welcome reciprocal reaction; ask questions and seek counsel all the time.

This is not the first time Muhyiddin’s ability to lead the war against Covid-19 has been questioned, so it is unlikely anything will change under him.

Muhyiddin and his ministers appear semi-interested, semi-committed and semi-competent in the face of an emergency.

All of them have been so limp, confrontational and dismissive – even as the healthcare system teeters on the brink of collapsing under the strain, and desperate cries ring out for hospital beds, medical oxygen and coronavirus tests.

Several governments have made mistakes during the pandemic but our government must rank high in poor management of the pandemic.

It was so different when the pandemic first struck Malaysia on March 20, with the prime minister acting swiftly and decisively to lead the war.

We were doing well, so what went wrong?

Clearly, the guard was let down by Malaysians, but also by the leaders.

It was primarily a lack of leadership and wrong decisions, such as allowing heavy foot-traffic at public places, questionable gatherings and inter-state travel that resulted in the surge.

The damage could hardly have been clearer: A record-high 26 deaths reported yesterday, took the number of fatalities to 1,683 while the total number of infections now stands at 440,677.

Amid a sluggish vaccination roll-out, Muhyiddin and his ministers are struggling to keep their heads above the flotsam the tide is bringing in.

Everything reeks of mediocrity which seems ingrained and systemic.

Meanwhile, members of the Malaysian government have yet to acknowledge that the situation could have been handled differently.