Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the country cannot implement a full lockdown like it did in 2020, because that one almost caused a "total economic collapse", according to Malay Mail.
During an interview with RTM on May 23, Muhyiddin shared with the hosts that the full lockdown cost the country about RM2.4 billion (S$770 million) per day.
Muhyiddin said that the country's economy "almost collapsed" as a result.
The financial cost came not just from the direct support to the public, but also the restrictions placed on businesses as people remained indoors.
Another stimulus package needs to be bigger
Muhyiddin elaborated that the government released an RM340 billion (S$109 billion) economic package to help Malaysians, with about one-fifth of that sum used to bolster economic recovery and support employment.
However, he believes that if Malaysia were to enact a second full lockdown today, another RM340 billion package will not be enough to to stimulate the economy again, due to the rise in community cases.
In his estimation, it would take a package sized around RM500 billion (S$160.3 billion), but then he asked rhetorically whether Malaysia could afford it.
This, Muhyiddin said, was the reason why he resisted calls for a full lockdown. He said he did not want people to die of illness, but neither did he want the economy to collapse and leave people with "no money to eat."
Malaysia currently has a "revised Movement Control Order", with restrictions such as shortened operating hours for eateries and reduced capacity for public transport.
Record number of infections
Malaysia is facing a tough challenge, with Covid-19 infections on the rise.
On May 24, Malaysia recorded over 6,000 new cases, with a record number of 61 deaths.
711 people are in the intensive care unit.
The Health Ministry called for Malaysians to stay at home as much as possible for two weeks to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission.
Top image from Muhyiddin's Facebook page.