How does white flag campaign equate to failing statehood, asks Zafrul

How does white flag campaign equate to failing statehood, asks Zafrul
How does white flag campaign equate to failing statehood, asks Zafrul

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz has said assessments that Malaysia was tumbling into a failed statehood were unfair.

Among others, he dismissed the white flag campaign as being a signal that the country was faltering.

"I am sure that many social and political scientists are as baffled as I am by how a single community-care campaign - and perhaps also social media conversations - on helping those in need can be equated with impending failed statehood," he said in an editorial piece for Singapore's Strait Times.

The white flag campaign urges those in dire need of help to put up a white flag to signal to others that they require aid.

Critics have taken this to show that the government has failed to help the people, not only to give them aid, but to safeguard their livelihoods.

Zafrul, however, argued that the government has stepped up to give aid.

"Despite being burdened with legacy debt and socio-economic structural issues, as well as political uncertainty, RM38 billion was successfully disbursed in the form of direct aid and subsidies last year, while RM45 billion was allocated for this year, with a balance of RM28 billion still to be disbursed.

"All these disbursements have assisted working and middle-class Malaysians, supported 330,000 employers and saved more than 2.7 million jobs.

"To cap it off, unemployment has been reduced from 5.3 percent in May last year, to 4.5 percent in May this year. Do all these facts reflect a 'failing' state?" he said.

The minister in charge of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) also cited efforts to deliver food baskets by allocating RM300,000 to each parliamentarian as an example.

MPs in large constituencies previously complained that the allocation was insufficient, as it was only enough for 3,000 families.

Meanwhile, Zafrul said claims that Malaysia was in danger of becoming a failed state also ignores efforts to ramp up vaccination rates.

"Now that sufficient supplies are finally reaching our shores, we are pulling out all the stops and partnering with state governments, the private sector and civil society on mass vaccination.

"Based on this alone, no journalist worth his salt would label a government, which is on track to ensure 80 percent of its adult population is vaccinated by end-2021, as moving towards failed statehood," he said.

He added that the government via the NRP has a more aggressive strategy aimed at "locking down" Covid-19 hotspots.

He also said intensive care unit capacity is being raised in partnership with private hospitals, while more public, army, and teaching hospitals are being converted to deal with the pandemic.

The number of active Covid-19 cases yesterday was 91,722 - the worst since the pandemic began in Malaysia last year.

The daily number of cases have also exceeded 8,000 per day for five days in a row.