I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.

–ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AMERICAN STATESMAN AND LAWYER WHO SERVED AS USA’S 16TH PRESIDENT  

Amidst this extremely difficult time, I take great comfort in knowing that the federal government is working as a united front to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

If there is any silver lining in this period of disgruntlement and agony, it is probably that. I, for the life of me, cannot imagine this if the severely disunited Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government were still at the helm.

While there should not be any blame thrown at anyone, PH leaders, true to their errant self, saw it absolutely fit to criticise the new federal government in their handling of the crisis.

Former Federal Territories Minister and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) leader Khalid Samad claimed last week that the PH government handled the crisis better, during the first wave of the novel coronavirus, as it was called at the time.

Well, let’s see how good they handled it. Then Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said on Jan 28 that he rejected the idea of turning away tourists from China.

You see, orang yang dah masuk dalam negara ini orang yang sihat sebagai pelancong (the people who are entering the country are all healthy tourists).

Kita akan buat surat kepada pusat-pusat pelancongan ini (we will write a letter to all the tourism spots), please don’t stop the tourists visiting tempat-tempat yang nak dilawati pelancong (the tourism spots they want to visit).

“This is not good. This is totally wrong, kenapa kita nak halang orang sihat nak melawat dalam negara kita (why do we want to stop all this healthy people from visiting the country), what is all this thing, you know?”

A journalist then stepped up, arguing that stopping Chinese tourists was a good precautionary step, only to be shot down by Mohamaddin, who said: “How could you say that this a matter of precaution so that this will not get worse?” to his chagrin.

“They are in this country, dia orang dah check, dia orang-orang sihat (they have been checked, they are all healthy people), I don’t think they are spreading disease all around, you know,” he continued.

Notably, ‘revered’ former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad was at Mohamaddin’s right, smiling and nodding in agreement with the minister.

Why didn’t crisis management expert Dr Dzulkefly correct his colleague, or his government? On the day itself, Jan 28, there were already 65 cases of persons under investigation (PUI) for the virus in Malaysia.

Of the 65, 34 were Malaysians, 30 were China nationals and one Jordanian. At the time, one person was identified as Covid-19 positive.

Clearly, Khalid’s intuition was wrong. They didn’t see this thing coming from a mile away.

I can’t imagine if former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was still at the helm, issuing announcements, and only to make a stunning reversal a few days later.

Of course, I can’t also imagine his protege turned nemesis Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim trying to contradict him at every turn, issuing statements on his own to do one better than Dr Mahathir.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s handling of the crisis, although not without criticism, is at the very least, comforting. Clearly, this is a testament to his decades of experience as a lawmaker.

There is no designated successor trying to preempt his decisions and there is no secretary-general from another party issuing divisive statements and talk about how his alternative handling strategy would save the country by his own formula.

Political tussle is the last thing the country needs in the current period, and I just don’t think it is possible with the old government with their all too famous tendencies to make the worse out of a good situation.

If Muhyiddin and his government can steer the ship around, then there should be no reason for them to be voted out in the next general election.
To all naysayers and armchair crisis management experts at home, buckle up. Like it or not, we are all in the same ship.

Save your criticism for another day, for all I and the rest of the nation care, it doesn’t help anyone.