Short, sharp total lockdown more effective

The lockdown has put to waste many efforts to recover by low and middle-income groups, says Sohaimi

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL 

THE current Movement Control Order, which allows some industries to operate but bans others, does not have the desired result of breaking the high infection rate of Covid-19 in the country.

The sentiment was demonstrated as the government tacked on two more weeks of the lockdown that was supposed to end today, say some industry leaders.

They say while businesses must abide by the government’s lockdown rules, a total lockdown similar to MCO 1.0 would have provided a sharp but short disruption to all industries which would have been more effective.

As it is, the current lockdown shuts some businesses, but allows the movement of people in other business segments and is not as effective in curbing workplace spread of the disease, according to Asean Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia chairman Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan.

“With the current standard operating procedures, with increasing positive cases, we will take a longer period to recover, ruining some sectors.

“If nothing is done, Covid-19 will fail to be addressed. The economy is getting worse, the people suffer and unemployment rises.

Sohaimi said the lockdown has put to waste many efforts to recover by these groups as the country restricts economic movement.

“The extension of the MCO is likely to disrupt economic sectors, especially the low-income and middle-income groups within the economy.

“The impacts of the movement restriction since its first implementation have seen entrepreneurs go bankrupt, and incomes and savings depleting. Employers could not survive and their staff had to be laid off.

“They had a short recovery period before the MCO3.0 resumed in the wake of the recent wave of Covid-19, which had forced the government to announce another lockdown,” he said in the statement.

Giving approvals to only certain quarters in the economy is deemed biased as halting the business of the other half, even temporarily, is causing deep financial repercussions, said Sohaimi.

“It is unfair that only several sectors were classified as essential sectors and allowed to operate during the movement restriction period because other sectors also have operating costs that need to be borne.

“The government needs to reevaluate this matter to reduce that impact and financial cost borne by industry players, at the same time, plans for an effective plan for Malaysia’s economic recovery plan,” he said.

“The same goes for the discrepancy in the information disseminated by various government agencies such as the police, customs, immigration — causing confusion  among people,” he said.

On financial assistance, Sohaimi said the automatic moratorium should be widened to credit lenders to support the low-income and middle-income groups.

“We know for a fact that purchases such as through credit lenders by the low-income were being rejected from getting the moratorium. These purchasers need to be given attention.

“More could be done, such as reducing the management fees for high-rise residential condominiums, and the Housing and Local Government Ministry can intervene and request for the reduction.

“The reason is simple, as many facilities are closed, businesses cannot run,” he said.