1 Year As PM: Muhyiddin Says Protecting Both Lives And Livelihoods Are PN's Top Priority
In conjunction with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin serving one full year as Malaysia's eighth Prime Minister, he made a special address to the nation at 10am today, 1 March
In his almost one-hour long speech, Muhyiddin began by saying he is grateful to be able to gather today to celebrate 'Setahun Malaysia Prihatin' — which is also the theme of the address.
"Today marks the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government," he said.
"Over the past year, we have faced a major crisis that threatens the lives of the people, namely the COVID-19 pandemic."
"The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in not only a global health crisis, but also an economic crisis on a scale that has never experienced globally since the 1930s."
"Our country is no exception to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 300,000 people were infected with the virus and the country's economy shrank by 5.6% in 2020."
Due to that, Muhyiddin said protecting the lives and livelihoods of Malaysians are PN's top priority
Our main challenge is to strike a fine balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.
To achieve that, he said the government implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) to safeguard Malaysians' lives, while introducing RM305 billion worth of economic stimulus packages to protect citizens' livelihoods.
He then thanked frontliners for battling the pandemic and successfully overcoming the first two waves of the outbreak, adding that the third wave is currently on a downward trend.
Muhyiddin commended Malaysia's healthcare system for not only being able to survive amidst the crisis, but also effectively treating COVID-19 patients.
"The mortality rate due to COVID-19 in Malaysia is among the lowest in the world, which is below 0.4% and more than 90% of those infected have fully recovered," he related.
Commenting on the economic damage caused by the pandemic, Muhyiddin said Malaysia's economy contracted 28.7% in April 2020, before seeing an improvement in December 2020 with only a 1.7% contraction
He said the unemployment rate has also decreased from 5.3% in May 2020 to 4.8% in December 2020.
The Prime Minister stressed that the reopening of the economy is crucial during the current MCO because Malaysia is a trading nation that relies on exports.
"The impact of the second MCO in its early stages. With only manufacturing and part of the retail and construction industries allowed to operate at 100% capacity, (it is predicted that the impact) is three times lower than the first MCO," he said.
"However, the loss of revenue is still huge at around RM633 million a day. As a result of that, the government directed that all economic activities in the services, retail, and construction sectors be allowed to operate at a 100% capacity while complying with strict standard operation procedures (SOPs). Permission to operate for these economic activities provides an opportunity for companies to continue generating income."
With these measures, Muhyiddin quoted projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as saying that Malaysia's economy will grow at a rate of 7% and 6.7% respectively in 2021.
In comparison, he said the world's gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to recover at 5.5%, while world trade is projected to grow at 8.1%.
Muhyiddin understands that Malaysians are currently going through a hard time
During the pandemic, he said some of those who were previously in the T20 group have become the M40 and part of the M40 group has become the B40 group.
"Those in the B40 group are getting poorer due to the economic downturn," he revealed.
He said he will chair a Cabinet committee to fight issues pertinent to poverty. Among the implementations under the poverty eradication programme, he said the committee will look into increasing the Poverty Line 2021 (PGK 2021) from RM980 to RM2,208.
According to him, the move will increase the number of poor households and groups receiving aid from the government.
When talking about the unity of the country, Muhyiddin thanked Malaysians for supporting each other in the face of crisis.
"This role is played at the level of individuals, local communities, voluntary organisations, or through private sector corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes that provide assistance to those in need regardless of race and religion is a commendable attitude that we must continue as Malaysians," he said.
Before ending his speech, he reasserted that the declaration of emergency is solely meant to combat COVID-19
Muhyiddin said that this is the first emergency in Malaysia that has an expiration date.
"The main focus of this government at this moment is to steer this country clear of the double whammy of health and economic crises," said the Pagoh Member of Parliament (MP).
"Once the pandemic is over, which I hope will be very soon, I will advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve the Parliament."
"When the election is held, of course, we will leave it to the people to decide whether the PN government should be re-elected or otherwise. You are free to choose and that is what democracy is all about."
He also took the opportunity to thank the foreign help that Malaysia received during this period.