Strengthening national power through strategic, critical thinking in dealing with Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the emergence of extraordinary circumstances for all countries globally. It challenged nations to take responsibility for their populations to prevent diseases, reduce economic pressures, and increase societal adaptability.

Malaysia, as well as many other countries, realised early on that to effectively combat the coronavirus crisis, both the government and society needed to work together effectively. This method has proven to be successful, and this article will examine how it works, with emphasis on the connection between the government’s initiative, and public participation, under the Whole of Government, Whole of Society (WoGoS) approach.

Thinking strategically and critically underpinned the Malaysian government’s response to the crisis. Strategic planning is a process that involves the development of certain long, and detailed goals for executing a specific objective. Because of the situation caused by the novel coronavirus, this is about pro-agility, and being prepared to handle and win various challenges, including public health crises, economic downturns, and socio-political turbulence.

Malaysia implemented a coordinated response strategy to manage the pandemic. It involved health interventions, economic stimulus packages, and social welfare support measures. The government’s proactive stance ensured citizens’ safety and welfare, while engaging with society.

The government took the lead in all-out efforts to combat the virus, whether by carrying out mass testing, contact tracing, or vaccination. In addition to that, a strategic partnership was built with international organisations and top pharmaceutical firms that contributed greatly to the provision of critical medical supplies and vaccines. These enterprises provided resources to combat the pandemic and protect Malaysia’s people, showing global engagement and resilience. On top of this, Malaysia has invested in health infrastructure, research, and education to prepare for future health risks. This proactive approach ensures a stronger and more resilient society. Investing in people’s welfare will lead Malaysia towards sustainable development and prosperity.

Critical thinking, the counterpart to strategic planning, made it possible to conduct thorough research, adopt smart decision-making processes, and quickly address emerging problems. Covid-19 revealed the importance of critical thinking. It is of paramount importance to appraise the credibility of scientific data, deliberate on various policy options, and put a stop to the circulation of misinformation and disinformation.

Malaysia successfully implemented critical thinking by relying on expert advice, using evidence to make policies, and communicating transparently. These measures encouraged positive messaging and informed decision-making, during a critical time for the country.

WoGoS approach fosters accountability, transparency, and responsiveness through critical thinking at all governance levels. It ensures responsibility, transparent communication, and prompt issue resolution. The National Security Council of Malaysia, led through the Health Ministry, as a multi-ministerial control response to the pandemic. Diverse government entities cooperated closely to implement a unified national plan. This was an approach that promoted information sharing, team effort, as well as resource pooling, and gave a platform on which effective crisis management could thrive.

Malaysia’s management of the crisis is commendable and can be the best example for other countries. The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) was a strong supporter and partner of the civilian authorities during the outbreak. The MAF established medical logistics, deployed field hospitals, and delivered different test and tracing programmes, helping to eradicate the pandemic. Apart from the MAF medical corps’ assistance to the Health Ministry, the MAF also enforced movement restrictions in regions with a high incidence of infection. This measure was taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the citizens in those areas and to prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of the country.

Malaysia’s pandemic management outcome has shown that cooperation and collaboration between the different actors are vital in this regard. It is a pathfinder for other countries to look up to and follow, in dealing with the problem effectively. Beyond that, the measures saw the participation of society in governmental processes and activities, and broadened societal engagement.

Civil society organisations, community leaders, and grassroots initiatives played significant roles in providing the necessary services. They cooperated with the government in terms of aggregating the needed assets, in dealing with the needs of underserved communities, and promoting their inclusivity in the decision-making process. In Malaysia, the unique and vibrant non-governmental organisation sector gave a voice to the people and contributed to public dialogue, social cohesion, and more democratic laws.

The Covid-19 crisis demonstrated the relevance of bringing about collaboration and creativity of whole of society in dealing with complex challenges. The people of Malaysia showed how resilient they can be in facing obstacles. By empowering individuals and communities, the Malaysian government encouraged people to embrace collective problem-solving and participatory decision-making processes. This fosters ownership and resilience, and strengthened the social fabric through active citizenship and teamwork.

While Malaysia faced unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the WoGoS approach, through strategic thinking, awareness, and preparedness, helped the country to overcome those challenges. Malaysia demonstrated remarkable leadership in the global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic by adopting a strategic approach, emphasising critical thinking and public engagement.

Malaysia took steps to build a new sense of community spirit that helped in the fight against the pandemic. The Malaysian government was quick to respond and adapt to changing circumstances, empowering community members, while encouraging citizens to contribute. Malaysia’s cooperative and effective response to the pandemic serves as an example of how to overcome hardship.

Brigadier General Mohd Fauzi Sulaiman is an officer in the Malaysian Special Service Corp and is currently attending the National Resilience Course in Putrajaya.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.