PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - Malaysia's economy will eventually recover from the global coronavirus pandemic once the country lifts the Movement Control Order (MCO), assured former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday (April 1).
However, Tun Dr Mahathir warned that this could take time, as the fundamentals of the Malaysian economy must be rebuilt.
"The economy will recover when we are no longer disrupted from doing work due to the virus. But, it will take time because we have to rebuild our economic fundamentals again, " he said during a Facebook live session.
"We should also redevelop ourselves to work harder, and with hard work, we can help recover the national economy faster," he added.
Analysts have said that a global recession is inevitable as business activities come to a halt in many of the world's top economies due to unprecedented measures taken to deal with the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which has infected close to 860,000 worldwide.
Malaysia reported 142 new coronavirus cases as at Wednesday, taking the total to 2,908, the highest in South-east Asia. The health ministry said it has recorded a total of 45 deaths, with two fatalities reported on Wednesday.
"Terrible, this is terrible," said Dr Mahathir in response to a question about the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy.
"Just think - when people don't go out for work, they are not productive, not delivering anything, not helping businesses and therefore, they are not creating wealth," he said.
He also gave the example of the tourism industry which has been impacted by entry bans being imposed by many countries, leading to flight and hotel cancellations and resulting in billions of losses.
"Because of this pandemic, tourists cannot travel anywhere... The whole tourism industry will suffer - hotels will suffer, restaurants will suffer, supplies will suffer, everyone will suffer.
"If we do recover, I'm quite sure it will take a lot of time before we can rebuild the economy again," Dr Mahathir said.
Dr Mahathir said the probability of Covid-19 being completely eradicated from the country would depend on Malaysians themselves.
"If we adhere to the MCO, stay at home and no one at home has this virus, then we won't be infected.
"If we decide to go out, gather in groups and hug, then it will cause this virus to infect even more and it will take a longer time to recover.
"I'm advising Malaysians to adhere to the MCO. We all have the same goal, which is to flatten the curve and break the chain. If we succeed, then we can return to our daily activities."
The MCO, which was enforced on March 18, is expected to end on April 14.