As the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak unleashes, the government has reimposed conditional movement control order (CMCO) on Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from 14th October until 27 in a bid to control the outbreak in these states. However, policies issued by government authorities has stirred up confusion and conflicts among public, further burdening these citizens and businesses.
The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) asserts that there is a lack of clarity and precise approach by the government which brings anxieties and uncertainties to the public and different economic sectors which detailed as below:
- On 20th October, National Security Council has announced a requirement of swab tests for workers from red zones commencing 22nd October. However, it was later announced such tests were “highly recommended” after previously declaring them mandatory, except for foreign workers working in the construction sector and as security guards in red zones.
- Senior Defence Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob has previously announced that public and private sector workers in management and supervisory positions in areas under conditional movement control order (MCO) would have to work from home, starting Oct 22, which details of the directive would then be clarified by Ministry of International Trade and Industry. However, in a follow-up statement on 21st Oct, International Trade and Industry (Miti) Minister Azmin Ali has raised more questions than answers. The government’s initial instructions for managerial and supervisory staff in CMCO areas to work from home and later amendment to allow a maximum 10 per cent of such staff to be present at the workplace was both vague and questionable. We also question the practicality of the discriminative SOPs which only allow the management and supervisory staff to work only four hours for three days a week. The government should have just let companies decide on their own how to reduce the number of staff present physically at the workplace.
- Pakatan Harapan-led state governments have numerously being excluded from National Action Council meeting on Covid-19 which causes delayed communication and coordinated efforts in combating the crisis. As of mentioned, the federal government had announced CMCO for Selangor on 14th Oct which arrived just few days after the similar imposition on Klang. Chaos has reigned over Klang district as the local citizens are confused by different protocols and misleading information.
- Restaurant owners were confused in terms of positions at the dining tables, followed by directives issued by the Senior Defence Minister and Selangor Menteri Besar.
Although the Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri has insisted that periodical changes to regulations and SOPs for CMCO is inevitable depending on the fluctuation of the pandemic situation, KLSCAH is concerned that confusing and half-baked statements have resulted in great uncertainty among business communities and citizens.
KLSCAH suggests the government to delineate SOPs and protocols for RMCO, CMCO and EMCO precisely, and seek to amend accordingly depending on COVID infectivity in each area. Local inhabitants would then be able to follow the standardised regulations and protocols without risking violations.
Federal and state governments are encouraged to have proper communication and coordination on measures implementation in order to provide clarity and assurance to the people. Efficient and effective exchange of information is also needed between government agencies to avoid confusion and uncertainty.
A delicate balancing act is also crucial between economic recovery and pandemic handling by the government. Measures such as working from home directives and working hours restrictions are significantly affecting different sectors and industries and should be carefully implemented. Government should alleviate the strictness of SOPs depending on the level of infectivity on different areas as we are risking economy downturn as a result. Covid-19 related measures must be announced coordinated, clear and comprehensive in order to avoid confusion.
The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)