Today, March 16, 2021, health experts in Malaysia report that they recorded 1,063 new Covid-19 cases. On March 15, 2021, there were just 1,208 new cases, fueling the speculation that Malaysia is experiencing a slow decline in cases.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah expressed his gratitude when he took to his Facebook to announce the latest information.
According to health director-general Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah,
The total number of Covid-19 cases reported today is the lowest.
According to the recent data the state of Selangor reported 323 new cases, the highest number in Malaysia. The states of Sarawak and Penang reported 183 cases and 175 cases, respectively. Just one case was recorded in Labuan, while Perlis and Putrajaya had no new cases.
Abdullah added, “There are 152 individuals in the intensive care units with 68 of them breathing through ventilators…apart from that another five deaths were registered today bringing the total number of deaths to 1,218.”
As with all countries the pandemic hits the elderly the hardest, this is true in Malaysia, where the virus is especially harmful to the age group 70 years old and above with underlying morbidities. Vaccinations continue to rise with 100,000 workers set to be vaccinated early in Singapore.
There are growing tensions over real and potential government misuse of power against citizens. While cases are in decline, many people of conscience are concerned about the loss of basic freedoms.
Malaysia remains in a state of emergency. Parliament is closed, leaving citizens to wonder what news is reliable. A proposed new law would make so-called “fake news” a crime. Penalties for creating and distributing false reports will carry a $24,000 fine, equivalent to 100,000 Malaysian ringgit, and a potential 3-year prison sentence.
There is a growing concern for free speech, as the new law would reportedly empower police to use “necessary means” to confiscate and discard what they believe to be false reporting. This includes a requirement that citizens give law enforcement access to data, passwords, and encryption codes. Fines will be imposed on those who do not comply.
There is a growing concern for the potential abuse of power by the state. Wathshlah Naidu, the executive director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, said in a statement that there exists,
Real possibilities of abuse through arbitrary arrests, investigations and punitive actions…we anticipate further surveillances and invasions of our privacy, arbitrary censorships of critical and dissenting media reports, and thus, attacks on media freedom, and disproportionate crackdowns on legitimate speech.
According to critics of the new law, there has been no public debate, hearings, or opportunities for citizen input. With no definition of “fake news” the imposition of abuse can easily arise, especially since the edict is a blanket law, covering all video, audio productions, and text.
Conservatives are highly concerned and agitated about the potential for abuse.
Resource Data from Malaysia: Click here