Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic and Governance in Malaysia: With Lessons from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis

Co-authored by ABDUL RAHMAN EMBONG and ANIS YUSAL YUSOFF

Penerbit UM (First Printing, 2022)
270 pages including References and Index

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Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic and Governance in Malaysia: With Lessons from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis is written in such a fashion as to document the crises’ impacts on peoples’ lives and how the respective governments of the day-initiated measures to turn around the situation with the resources and political discourse prevalent at the time. The impacts of the crises are described through a multi-dimensional lens, dissecting the events from the perspectives of social consequences, livelihoods, government assistance, stimulus packages, public healthcare systems, education, indigenous communities, and migrant workers. Overall, the arguments evaluated the status of governance, leadership, and human development, in dealing with the shocks to the systems in the country.

The grim reality is that humanity is exposed to global pandemics today more than ever. In Malaysia, we are faring no better. COVID-19 cases are surging while the vaccination programme had just started at the end of February 2021 with the front-liners to be followed by the high-risk groups. We are very concerned not just with the health aspects of the pandemic but also with the socio-economic impacts on human development. Underlying all these is the question of governance and leadership which is so critical in managing the crisis and bringing it under control, and building a better future.

This book sets out elements in the socio-economic impact assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in Malaysia and examines it with special reference to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998. The two studies used different methodologies in keeping with the situation. The Asian Financial Crisis study undertaken from October to December 1998 used the rapid participatory assessment approach that could produce quick but evidence-based outcomes. Using this approach, the research team engaged in face-to-face interviews with 188 respondents from selected sectors throughout the country who were impacted in various ways by the crisis, besides holding focused group discussions, and interviews with key informants including those from relevant government agencies, to obtain primary data from the ground. To complement this, secondary data from the official source and information from media reports were also obtained. Being a rapid assessment study on the impact of the crisis for policy purposes, time and speed—besides accuracy and objectivity—are of the essence because of the urgency of the problem, and the timeliness of the report.

For the COVID-19 pandemic crisis study, because of the dangers of COVID-19 infectivity and the restrictions of the Movement Control Order, it was impossible to replicate the Asian Financial Crisis study methodology. Hence, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis study was done completely as a “desktop research” with a slightly longer time frame by about one to two months, The team went through many official documents for data and analysis, read reports by relevant Malaysian government agencies, the World Bank, IMF, and rating agencies, as well as books and journals for theoretical and analytical insights, and sieved through many hundreds of media reports available mainly online, for debates and information. Being inundated with loads of data and information (in fact, almost an ‘over-load’), the authors had to be circumspect in selecting and evaluating the data and information, collate and analyse them as systematically and consistently as possible, according to themes and issues pertaining to human development. We have tried to put them in the perspective of governance and leadership in periods of turmoil and to draw experiences and lessons from it.

Enhancing human development, strengthening social protection measures, and addressing social inequality and social inclusion from the perspective that no individual or community, especially the poor and vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is left out, is very critical in Malaysia. This book has been prepared with this objective in mind, and the authors hope it is taken in the spirit it is written.

List of Tables and Figures
Foreword
Preface
List of Abbreviations & Acronyms

1. Introduction
Background
Structure of the Book
Concluding Remarks

Part 1: Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic

2. Socio-economic Impacts on People’s Livelihoods: Employment, Wages, SMEs and the Informal Sector
Impacts on the Socio-Economic Sector
Identifying the Most Vulnerable Groups for Assistance
Conclusion

3. Managing the Pandemic and Reviving Economic Growth: An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Economic Assistance and Stimulus Packages
Economic Assistance and Stimulus Packages
Budget 2021
Impact of Stimulus Packages to Protect Jobs, Industries, and Reviving the Economy
Conclusion

4. Impact on Public Healthcare System, Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health
Rapid Spread of COVID-19 and Burden on Public Healthcare System
Impact on Treatment of Non-COVID Cases, Especially NonCommunicable Diseases
Mental Health a Major Concern

5. Impact of Stay-Home Order on Family Lives, Domestic Issues, Women, Children and the Elderly
Increase in Domestic Violence
Child Incest
Increase in Divorce Cases
The Issue of the Elderly
Conclusion

6. Impact of Prolonged School Closure on Education
Decision on School Closures and Opening
Conventional ‘Top Down’ and ‘One Size Fits All’ Approach: Its Wisdom and Downside
School Autonomy During COVID-19 Pandemic
Impact on Teaching and Learning
Remedial Measures, Learning Loss and the ‘Lost Generation’
Conclusion

7. Impact of COVID-19 and Lockdown on the Orang Asli
COVID-19 and the Orang Asli
Conclusion

8. COVID-19 and the Indigenous People in Sabah and Sarawak
Impact of COVID-19 and MCO on Sabah Indigenous Communities
COVID-19 and Sarawak Indigenous Communities
Sarawak’s Approaches to Combat COVID-19
Conclusion

9. Impact on Migrant Workers’ Lives and Livelihoods
COVID-19 and Protection of Migrant Workers
COVID-19 Screening Programme for Migrant Workers
Migrant Workers and Substandard Living Conditions
Conclusion

Part II: Socio-Economic Impacts of the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis in Malaysia: Findings of a Rapid Assessment Study

10. 1997-1998 Financial Crisis, National Policy Responses and Macroeconomic Impact in Malaysia
Origin and Extent of the Financial Crisis in Malaysia
National Policy Responses
Macroeconomic Impact of the Crisis

11. Impact on Employment, Wages, Livelihoods, Education, and Migration
Retrenchment and Rising Unemployment
Employers Defaulting on Payments of EPF, Wages and Compensation
Reduced Wages/Salaries, Decline in Assets, Indebtedness and Falling Remittances
Increasing Poverty Rate and Rise of the New Poor
Rising Prices and Impact on Livelihoods
Impact on Healthcare and Education
Rising Cost of Education
Changing Patterns of Internal and International Migration

12. Social Impact in Urban and Rural Areas, Selected Regions and Communities
Impact in Urban Areas
Impact on Women, Single Mothers and Female-Headed Households
Malaysian Workers in Singapore
Underprivileged Children and Orphans
Impact in Rural Areas
The Elderly
Impact in Selected Regions
Impact on Selected Communities
Migrant Workers

13. Emerging Social Issues and Policy Considerations
Increase in Crime
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
Drug Abuse and Drug Addicts
Prostitution, HIV and AIDS
School Dropouts and Child Labour
Challenge of an Ageing Population
Conclusion: Some Issues for Policy Consideration

Part III: Reflections, Lessons and Conclusions

14. Reflections on the Nature of Society and Governance in the Age of Pandemia
Are We in A Post-Pandemic Society?
The Issue of ‘Big Government’
What Can Be Done to Move Forward?

15. Important Lessons from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis: A Retrospective Analysis
Economic Impact of the 1997-1998 Crisis in Brief
Social Impacts on Various Sectors and Groups
Some Important Lessons

16. Asian Financial Crisis and COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis in Comparative Perspective: A Revisit of Governance and Leadership Issues
Asian Financial Crisis in Malaysia 1997-1998: A Few Key Responses
Impacts of and Responses to COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis 2020-2021
Beyond the Politics of the Asian Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis
Conclusion

17. Moving Forward to Advance Human Development in Malaysia
Social Protection
National Labour Policy, Human Rights and Labour Law Reform
Education as Key to the Future
Digital Connectivity
Healthcare System and Mental Health
Protect Rights of Women, Mothers, Children, and the Elderly: Need for an Inclusive National Social Plan
Care for the Elderly
Role of Youth
Support Indigenous Communities
Exemplary Leadership, Good Governance and Effective Communication

References
Index

Weight 0.449 kg
Dimensions 22.7 × 15.2 × 1.5 cm
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