Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says letting professionals spearhead and handle the fight against  Covid-19 was a good thing.

KUALA LUMPUR: The current government has done a good job in letting professionals spearhead and handle the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic health crisis, said former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this ensured the country would not be in a debilitating situation, as experienced in other countries.

Finding the vaccine would be the key to winning the fight but this would take time to test. He estimated it would take at least 18 months to find an effective vaccine.

Mahathir said this in an interview with Creative Cloud Community via YouTube titled “How to turn crisis into opportunity” today.

On the current economic situation, Mahathir said the world could face a much-worse depression than the Great Depression in 1929.

“The depression is already here, and could become worse unless we know how to handle it.

“It could be worse as the cause is beyond our control, until the world can perfect the vaccine to fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

On the impact of the pandemic on businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he suggested that they try to understand the disease to enable them to know things that should be done or avoided.

To mitigate losses due to the pandemic, Mahathir said entrepreneurs should find ways or better solutions rather than opting to close their businesses by making use of the assets they have under the present circumstances, as well as leveraging on opportunities in online selling.

“Online business is going to catch on. Even without the pandemic, this would be adopted much more.

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“New businesses would be based on good transportation, connections as well as good communications. It is a new way of marketing instead of waiting for people to come to you.”

He urged businesses to study new technologies such as video conferencing carefully to find ways to do business and to not stop thinking of exploring new ways to transform and be creative.

Mahathir also highlighted that the problem with businesses does not only lie with the people who sell but also the buyers.

“If those who are going to buy are limited and restricted, obviously there would not be a market. We have to understand now that people are very poor. The poor have become very, very poor.”

In cases where people cannot make money at all, he said the government must give them money or vouchers to buy basic necessities so that they could live and eat.

As for cash flow problems faced by businesses, he said the banks should be more lenient. The government, too, must help.

On manufacturing, he said the manufacturers must leverage on media communications technology as well as find new things, ideas or products that are needed now by the market.

“The market is huge with online business providing a lot of opportunities out there. You should not just limit yourself to the local market. Find ways to talk to your customers.“

There are also new things such as automation and robots which require programming skills where new learning is required.

“As more factories require automation, they need programmers. Therefore, learning programming is very important.”

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Touching on those who lost their jobs, he advised those who are planning to venture into business to have good ideas and skills in areas they are going into or else they will be in trouble.

“Give yourself time, suffer a little, slowly build up. When there are challenges, there are also opportunities.”

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