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MTUC: Easing of MCO ‘too fast and too soon’
Published on: Monday, May 04, 2020
By: NST
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Workers of a nasi kandar restaurant preparing for the reopening on Monday.
Kuala Lumpur: The government’s move to relax restrictions under the Movement Control Order (MCO) can cause the Covid-19 pandemic to worsen and put workers lives at risk.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement of the Conditional MCO (CMCO), which would see most businesses reopening from Monday onwards, came “too fast, too soon.”

Its Secretary-General J. Solomon in a statement, urged the premier to delay the implementation of the CMCO to allow more time for employers, workers, consumers to adjust and live under the “new normal”.

“This will not take forever, but it will certainly take more than three days.

“And to make it work, the government machinery must be visible on the ground to help everyone make smooth transition to the new normal so that the economic recovery can be sustained and shielded from a fresh wave of Covid-19 attacks.

“It (the announcement) came as a shock. The government is doing too much to kick start the economy, given that the Covid-19 pandemic threat remains real in Malaysia.”

Solomon said the announcement was made despite figures showing that since April 25, more than half of the 380 new Covid-19 cases were local or community transmissions.

A total of 248 or 65.3 per cent of cases were community transmissions, compared to 132 imported cases (34.7 per cent).

The statistics clearly showed that a new wave of Covid-19 outbreak remained to be a possibility in the country and the number of hot spots across Malaysia was still high, he said. These figures, he said, should have been sufficient for the government to see through the completion of the 4th phase of the MCO, scheduled to end on May 12, before considering the possibility of easing the restrictions.

Solomon cited developments in Japan, Singapore, Germany and Canada as examples to show how the situation could change dramatically if restrictions were lifted too soon.

“MTUC is worried that the government is acting hastily in doing away with many of the MCO curbs in the name of saving the country from further economic damage.

“No one wants to return to work more than the 15 million workers in the country. But has the government ensured that employers will put the safeguards in place for the safety of workers?

“Is there enough enforcement on the ground to ensure employers comply with the SOP drawn up by the Health Ministry? Are these health screenings actually taking place?”

All these, Solomon said, were important issues that needed to be addressed before companies be given the green light to resume operations.

He said the public and businesses should first be provided with all the relevant information as well as clarification on SOPs.

Local authorities, health officers, and those from the relevant ministries, he said, should ensure the SOPs complied with, before giving approval for these entities to operate.

This, he said, would instill public confidence and ensure the business community sustain their operations by maintaining the highest health care standards.

“MTUC cannot fathom the need for the government to lift major MCO restrictions with just a three-day notice to the rakyat, companies, restaurants, shopping malls, coffee shops which clearly need much more time in order to make the necessary adjustments.

“Another point to consider is the possibility of enforcement teams indulging in corruption, something which is not impossible based on past experiences in our enforcement teams. These, if allowed to happen, may be the cause of a second or third wave.”

MTUC also urged the government not to risk the health and safety of workers, both local and foreign as feedback gained showed that many employers who were earlier been allowed to operate ignored basic safety measures, such as the wearing of masks, use of sanitisers and social distancing.

“The poor, squalid and cramped living conditions of many of the workers are a major cause of concern.”

Businesses, he said, need not worry about losing their in come as once the MCO is totally lifted, people would rush to buy all the items that they lacked in huge quantities, hence they would regain their lost profits in no time.

 


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