Authorities urged to look into easing MCO restrictions for certain industries

Datuk Lau Nai Hoh

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SIBU, April 1: There is a need to strike a fine balance between securing the people’s health, and allowing them to generate an income to feed themselves and their families.

Sarawak Chinese Cultural Association president, Datuk Lau Nai Hoh said the government was doing all that it could for the moment, and the public should play their part in supporting the fight against Covid-19.

As the movement control order (MCO) passes its 14-day mark, Lau suggested that the authorities place emphasis on looking into areas that could be further improved or amended under Phase 2 of the MCO.

He proposed the authorities to look deeper into the merits of allowing more enterprises to operate under the movement control order (MCO)

“Do not get me wrong. I fully support and understand the need for the movement control order. There is no dispute about that at all,” he said today.

He noted that both federal and state governments should be lauded for what they have done for the people, thus far.

“I am just hoping that the authorities may consider the resumption of certain business, albeit under very special circumstances and very strict hygiene enforcements,” he said.

Businesses which do not deal directly with consumers or huge numbers of people, and also industries that are confined to their specific work areas such as construction and shipbuilding, merit the authorities’ consideration for resumption of operations under the MCO extension, Lau suggested.

Many businesses have multiplier impact and when they are stopped, not only are the owners and workers affected, but also everyone down the supply chain.

“For example, in construction, the developer awards the project to a contractor. The contractor will then award the masonry, carpentry, ironmongery, plumbing, electrical and the likes to many other sub-contractors,” he explained.

Thus, it is apparent that during the MCO, it is not just the developer which is required to stop work, but many others down the supply chain.

The same goes with shipbuilding or other enterprises, Lau pointed out.

In the case of shipbuilding, one of the top five revenue generators for Sibu, Lau noted many of his workers housed at the company quarters had been pleading with him to allow them to work. But he has refused to give in to their pleas as the MCO was in effect.

To assist them, Lau has been giving them free rice and some essential items.

“But they told me they’d rather be working as they are daily paid and while I have taken care of their basic needs, they have hire purchase instalments to pay,” he added.

Lau said with the MCO extension, the workers were rightfully worried.

In view of the special circumstances of certain industries, Lau hoped that the authorities would look into easing some of the MCO restrictions.

“We are not asking for a free pass. We are asking for the authorities to look into the possibilities. Those industries that do not come into contact with the mass public, should be allowed to resume operations but under the strictest hygiene enforcements and with a much reduced workforce,” he stressed.

“I understand that one size cannot fit all. As such we can look individually at circumstances. All we are asking is for the authorities to open themselves to the merits of allowing certain segments of the population to work, under strict enforcement of hygienic practices,” he said.

This, he added, would go a long way in helping the people feed themselves, instead of just relying on handouts from others. — DayakDaily