Put all differences aside and work together to end the pandemic, urges former MP

Julian Tan, Special Assistant to Chong Chieng Jen

By John Isaac

IT is time for us to stop dividing the nation and to work as one to jointly overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, said former Stampin MP, Julian Tan.

He said the previous MCOs and EMCOs have failed and the daily infection rates are much higher and Sarawak’s daily infection rate per million population is one of the highest in the world as of May 30.

“It only shows the failure of us containing it, be it the government or the citizens. We failed to get ahead of the game.

“It is foolish of us to think that by doing the same thing, we can curb the spread. Some things need to change for us to have a different outcome,” he said.

Among these, said Julian are:

– Our contact tracing is not effective and fast enough. Close contacts must be identified, tested and isolated within 24 hours to contain the spread. We need to take drastic measures to improve the current tracing mechanism.

– SDMC’s slow decision-making and indecisiveness. You don’t need more than 24 hours to make a decision in a crisis like this. Stop the bureaucracy and start to coordinate well with the federal government.

– Ramp up mass testing. Even the current targeted rate of 150,000 daily testing is not good enough. In Sarawak, our latest average positive rate of more than 12% is more than double the 5% advisory rate by the World Health Organisation (WHO). To look into the mechanism of combining Rapid test (RTK-Ag) and RT-PCR tests to help quickly diagnose more cases.

– Poor compliance with SOPs. Our current reproduction rate (R), which is the second-highest in the world as of May 24, shows that most will not have the discipline to follow the SOPs in place. A full lockdown, therefore, is inevitable to curb the high daily infections.

– The latest research by top-100 most influential economists shows countries with stricter lockdowns have better economic performances. Incrementally, tightening more stringent measures in SOPs will not work in curbing the daily infections and will only prolong the suffering on the economy. We need a total “circuit breaker” to pre-empt escalating infections.

– Ramping up the vaccination programme is our only option now. In reality, we are plagued with ministries still doing catching-up with the latest SOP changes, flip-flopping and confusion over SOPs, and poor compliance from the public.

“It is welcoming news that Sarawak will be allocated 350,000 doses of vaccines per week starting June. The Sarawak government needs to be transparent and lay down concrete plans on how they are going to ramp up vaccinations from the average 6,490 daily to 45,000 daily starting June.

“Our ICU capacity has reached its limit. What Sarawakians need now is decisive leadership with focus only on winning over the Covid-19 pandemic,” added Julian, who is also a special assistant to Sarawak DAP chief, Chong Chieng Jen.