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US, Europe paying the price of putting freedom first in Covid-19 fight, says Malaysia’s former PM, Dr Mahathir

FMT Reporters Fri, April 17, 2020

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the likes of the US and Europe are paying a high price for prioritising values like personal freedom in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former prime minister said these countries are now recording a large number of Covid-19 casualties.

“They are paying a very high price,” he said in a talk with medical personnel from Sunway Medical Centre this morning.

He had been asked if policies in Western countries which place importance on human rights, liberalism and personal freedom were causing such nations to suffer the consequences.

A medical doctor himself, Mahathir said when it comes to battling a virus, the main concern is infections.

When personal freedom is prioritised over self-discipline, he said, laws would not be followed.

“And we will suffer the repercussions,” he said.

Mahathir said countries like China and South Korea had been efficient in battling the outbreak because their citizens were disciplined and obeyed the government’s instructions.

He said this was unlike those in European countries whom he claimed saw the pandemic as “a developing nation’s problem” where there are insufficient medical facilities to handle the crisis.

“They feel that they are more advanced and can deal with the problem better.

“But what we find is that even if they are more developed, their attitudes (towards Covid-19) are a factor as to why they are not that successful in containing the pandemic.”

He said having the right attitude was as important as having the medical facilities to deal with the outbreak.

He also said that online businesses could flourish during this crisis as they had the entire world as their market.

“You can sell anywhere in the world. Maybe our business will be better than before,” he said.

When asked what factors should be considered before the movement control order is lifted, Mahathir said experts should first review the initiatives already in place such as social distancing, the wearing of face masks and staying at home.

Adding that these initiatives are still at the trial and error stage, he said the experts would need to know how effective they were.


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