FMM reiterates call to shelve Act 432 for biz recovery

by TMR / pic by TMR FILE

THE Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) reiterates calls for the shelving of the recently proposed amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act 342 indefinitely, saying that repressive laws would be damaging the post-pandemic recovery period.

FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai (picture) said Malaysia, which is fuelled significantly by the private sector-driven economy, needs progressive policies and laws to stand tall globally.

“Repressive and hostile laws which have not gone through proper regulatory risk impact assessment are going to be very damaging for the economy especially in the post-pandemic recovery period which is very critical for businesses and the economy alike,” he said in a recent statement.

“As it is, the use of existing laws is not consistent most of the time. More seriously, it is not enforced fairly and many times open to overzealous actions by the enforcement agencies.

The federation also stressed for a stakeholders engagement to better understand the necessity of the amendments to Act 342.

“Policy and lawmakers must be mindful of the risk of new laws which may discourage any new investments or result in the flight of existing and potential investors to more business-friendly destinations,” he added.

“What is required more urgently is more rehabilitative and advisory approaches on how to overcome this disease and infections. Any arbitrary and high-handed enforcement provisions will lead to negative and somewhat irreversible results as well as a breeding ground for corruption and bribery,” Soh said further.

FMM said it welcomes further engagement with the authorities to discuss recommendations for a win-win outcome for both the government and private sector to fight the pandemic and at the same time, facilitate business and economic recovery.

Last month, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar called for a postponement on the second and third reading of the amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease (Amendment) Bill 2021 (Act 342) to the next Parliament sitting.

“Taking into consideration the need to focus on the current flood crisis, I have decided to take on the decision made by the select committee and propose for the second and third reading of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease (Amendment) Bill 2021 to be postponed to the next Parliament sitting,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.

The amendments remain a contentious issue as industry players and a health expert said the fine towards individuals and business owners will further sow distrust among the people, in light of several punishments alleged to be implemented in a double standard manner.

The bill, tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat Dec 14, proposes a maximum RM1 million fine on companies and organisations, and up to RM10,000 on individuals who flout the standard operating procedures.

Last week, retail associations also urged the government to consult all stakeholders on the proposed amendments to Infectious Diseases Act 342.

“We are in unison that a comprehensive review must be conducted to make the amendments relevant, practical and realistic,” the groups said in a joint statement on Jan 19.

“We further express that with the changing Covid situation and with further understanding of this pandemic through data and science, we believe many of the proposed amendments are irrelevant and unnecessary and will hinder the nation’s economic recovery after the devastating impact on the lives and livelihood of every citizen without exception,” it added.

Among the signatories of the statement were Industries Unite, Building Management Association of Malaysia, Bumiputera Retailers Organisation Malaysia, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Malaysia REIT Managers Association and Real Estate and Housing Developers Association.

The retail groups further said that after the withholding of the Bill for further review, no consultations have still yet been forthcoming.

“We, therefore, suggest that these amendments be thoroughly studied through consultations with all stakeholders under the Good Regulatory Practice Regulations and the requisite and due process of Regulatory Impact Assessment be conducted thoroughly,” the statement read.

“We, thus, propose that this Bill be withdrawn to conduct this requisite process.”