Federal government should employ whole-of-society approach to safeguard our economy & fight the pandemic: Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim

Media statement by Steven Sim, MP for Bukit Mertajam
22 JUNE 2021 | KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

Malaysian people and businesses are willing to sacrifice to win the pandemic war, but enough of arbitrary, unempirical, unscientific and meaningless industry shutdown by the government

Yesterday, the media reported that the gym and fitness industry has suffered more than RM110 million in losses since MCO 1.0. Today, the industry is still in a total shutdown. (https://themalaysianreserve.com/2021/06/21/gym-fitness-operators-lose-over-rm110m-since-mco-1-0)

SMEs, the backbone of our local economy, are suffering massively. Within one year from March 2020, 100,000 SMEs have closed shop, and the SME Association of Malaysia warned that if the current lockdown continues for a month, another 50,000 will fold.

The question now is, how long will the government continue with this arbitrary, unempirical, unscientific and meaningless lockdown policy?

Some sectors are allowed to operate, while others are not. Some companies can continue to run while others cannot. It is as if some businesses are asked to sacrifice for others.

Both the Malaysian people and businesses are willing to sacrifice and have indeed sacrificed in order to win this pandemic war. But with the government’s arbitrary, unempirical, unscientific and meaningless lockdown, the number of Covid-19 positive cases and deaths are not improving.

In the 21 days since the implementation of Total Lockdown, there had been 128,662 Covid-19 positive cases. Compare this to 127,873 positive cases during the last 21 days when all economic sectors were still allowed to operate from 11 May to 31 May 2021. In other words, nothing much has changed despite the stricter lockdown and the shutdown of the so-called non-essential sectors!

With these statistics, the lockdown will be prolonged and the sectors which had to shut down will continue to suffer. It renders in vain, the long and painful sacrifices of these sectors.

Adopt actual risk assessment, real data and sound scientific principles in decision-making on economic sector shutdown.

After more than one year of managing the pandemic, by now, the government should be able to conduct actual risk assessment on business premises, factories, and offices of all sectors, not playing the dangerous game of Russian roulette in deciding which sector should live and which sector should die.

In fact, at the end of last week, the Ministry of Health announced that 17 out of 23 new Covid-19 clusters were workplace clusters. Why is this happening when other sectors are being asked to shut down?

Every business should be given equal opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to minimise if not totally prevent on-site infection if they are allowed to operate; those which fail to do so should not be allowed to open, whether they be essential or not. And those which are able to do so, should not be unfairly punished with unnecessary shutdown.

If this pandemic will eventually become endemic as the government projected, then this is the new normal that the government and businesses will have to adopt. Instead of letting our economy, especially our SMEs go on a roller coaster ride every other month with the shutdown-reopen vicious cycle, the government must make decisions based on actual risk assessments, real data and sound scientific principles.

For example, what kind of policy decision was it that allowed factories with hundreds and thousands of workers but disallowed a fitness instructor from going to his gym to record and stream fitness videos for his clients at home so that at least he can continue to sustain his business, even at minimum?

The federal government should work with local governments, trade associations, chambers of commerce and professional bodies as part of a whole-of-society approach to safeguarding our economy and fighting the pandemic.

It will not be easy to implement such a risk assessment exercise, but this is where the much touted “whole-of-society approach comes in. Federal Ministries should not make decisions and pontificate from their high towered offices in Putrajaya alone. They must engage local governments which license business premises, trade associations, chambers of commerce and professional bodies to assist in such exercise.

For example, recently, a coalition of gym and fitness facility operators has offered to implement a 73-point SOP checklist so that their sector may reopen. Yet, despite this, and the low transmission rate recorded in the sector previously when they were allowed to operate, the government continues to turn a deaf ear by the arbitrary application of the terms “essential” and “non-essentials”.

Such an attitude of the federal government must stop. Everyone is suffering, business as usual by the federal government will only kill more Malaysian businesses and yet, fail to contain the pandemic.

Steven Sim Chee Keong
Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam


大山脚国会议员沈志强媒体文告
2021年6月22日 | 吉隆坡

马来西亚人民和企业愿意为对抗新冠肺炎疫情而牺牲,但政府任意、缺乏经验根据、不科学和毫无意义的行业关闭已经够折腾了

昨天有媒体报道指出,自行管令1.0以来,健身产业已经遭受了超过1亿1000万令吉的损失,而时至今日该行业仍处于全面停工状态。 (https://themalaysianreserve.com/2021/06/21/gym-fitness-operators-lose-over-rm110m-since-mco-1-0)

中小企业是我们国内经济的支柱,而其如今正遭受严酷的困境。从 2020 年 3 月起的一年内,已有 10万家中小企业关闭。马来西亚中小企业协会警告说,如果目前的封锁持续一个月,那么将有另外 5万家企业将倒闭。

现在的问题是,政府这种武断的、缺乏经验根据的、不科学的、毫无意义的封锁政策会持续多久?

一些领域被允许运营,而另一些则不允许。一些公司可以继续运营,而另一些公司则不能。这就好像要求某些企业为其他企业做出牺牲。

马来西亚人民和企业都愿意并且确实已经牺牲,以便在这样疫情抗战中获胜。但是,由于政府武断、缺乏经验、不科学和毫无意义的封锁,新冠肺炎确诊病例和死亡人数并没有改善。

自实施全面封锁以来的 21 天内,共有 12万8662 宗确诊病例。与过去 21 天的 12万7873 宗确诊病例相比,所有经济领域在 2021 年 5 月 11 日至 5 月 31 日期间仍被允许运营。换句话说,尽管实施了更严格的封锁和所谓关闭非重要行业,事态依然没有得到改善!

有了这些统计数据,封锁将被延长,不得不关闭的领域将继续受到影响。而这使得这些领域长期而痛苦的牺牲变得徒劳。

在经济领域关闭决策时,应该采用实际风险评估、真实数据和合理的科学原则。

经过一年多的抗击疫情,现在政府应该能够对各行各业的营业场所、工厂和办公室进行实际的风险评估,而不是玩俄罗斯轮盘赌的危险游戏来决定哪个领域应该生存,而哪个领域又应该消亡。

事实上,卫生部在上周末宣布,23 个新的新冠肺炎感染群中,有 17 个是工作场所感染群。当其他领域被要求关闭时,为什么会发生这种情况?

每个企业都应该有平等的机会来证明,如果允许他们经营的话,即使不能完全防止现场感染,也能够最大限度地减少;那些没有这样做的,无论是否必要,都不应该被允许开放。而那些能够这样做的人,不应该遭到不必要关闭的不公平惩罚。

如果这场疫情最终会像政府预测的成为长期流行病毒,那么这就是政府和企业必须采用的新常态。政府不能让我们的经济领域,尤其是中小企业继续坐过山车,每隔一个月就重启封锁-重新开放的恶性循环,而是必须根据实际风险评估、真实数据和合理的科学原理做出决定。

例如,什么样的政策决定允许拥有成百上千工人的工厂继续运作,但不允许健身教练去他的健身房为他的客户在家录制和播放健身视频,这样至少他可以在最低限度继续维持他的业务?
联邦政府应与地方政府、贸易协会、商会和专业团体合作,以举国体制的方式来保护经济和抗击疫情。

实施这样的风险评估工作并不容易,但这正是备受吹捧的“举国体制”可发挥作用的地方。联邦各部不应从布城办公室高高在上的做出决定并发表高见。他们必须联合发放营业场所许可的地方政府、行业协会、商会和专业团体协助开展此类活动。

例如,最近一个由健身设施运营商组成的联盟提出实施 73 点 SOP 清单,以便他们的部门可以重新开放。然而,尽管提出这项清单,加上该领域之前被允许运营时的低传播率,政府却依然继续依然以任意使用“必要”和“非必要”的说词对他们置若罔闻。

联邦政府必须停止这种态度。如今每个人都在受苦,联邦政府的一贯做法只会杀死更多马来西亚企业,但却依然无法遏制疫情。

沈志强
大山脚国会议员

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