Originally published at FES Asia

An analysis by our Fellows and Research Officer on the socio-economic impact on Covid-19 and reform of social protection policies in Malaysia.

The coronavirus pandemic hit Malaysia amidst a period of political turmoil and uncertainty as political parties were scrambling to form a new coalition government. While the country’s clear policy responses managed to flatten the curve of infections in the beginning, it has recently declared a state of emergency with case numbers reaching a national high of over 4,000 cases a day in January 2021. 

This new FES publication analyses the early stages of the pandemic in Malaysia after the newly established government imposed a strict Movement Control Order (MCO) in March 2020. It seemed that this sledgehammer bought the Malaysian government and society precious time to design the necessary instruments to continuously manage life with the pandemic. However, in balancing the dilemma of protecting life’s and livelihoods, the transitional MCO restrictions, which will last at least until August 2021, continue to disrupt economic activities and result in a bleak labour market & economic outlook.