Give flexibility to states to reopen biz – MTUC

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) logo

KUCHING, May 7:  All states in Malaysia should be given the flexibility to decide upon the pace of reopening businesses with the federal government acting as the facilitator by providing the health, public safety and economic experts and data to help them do so.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary general J. Solomon felt that the nine states which did not fully comply with Putrajaya wished to wind down on many of the movement control order (MCO) restrictions, merely acted to protect the safety of the rakyat without losing sight of the need to restart the economy.

“The leadership of these states acted conscientiously and with a sense of utmost responsibility to place health and public safety ahead of economic considerations as should be the case.
“The state governments know first hand the situation on the ground and should be given the trust to decide when and how best to allow businesses to resume operations in accordance with the SOP provided by the federal government and endorsed by the Health Ministry.

“This, to our mind, is the approach that should have been taken by Putrajaya, especially Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who appears to have been tasked to lead Putrajaya’s efforts in reviving the economy and to ensure the smooth  implementation of the conditional movement control order (CMCO),” he said in a statement here.

As such, MTUC was shocked to learn that there was little consultations between Azmin and the state governments before Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that relaxation of the MCO and greenlighted the opening of most businesses from May 4.

“By Azmin’s own admission in a press release,  state leaders were briefed about the CMCO and the status of the economy on April 28, which is a mere two days before Muhyiddin announced the partial lifting of MCO and the introduction of SOP or guidelines for most businesses to open.

“Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has since revealed that Azmin had agreed for a follow-up meeting on April 30 to discuss new guidelines for specific industries but the meeting never not take place.

“It is noteworthy that this important fact has not been challenged by Azmin or Putrajaya. One would also imagine that any decision for a second meeting on April 30 would have been minuted and can easily be approved or disapproved for the sake of transparency,” he said.

MTUC held that it did not wish to get embroiled in any squabble between state leaderships and leaders of the federal government.

“Our support for the state governments decision to hold off, albeit temporarily, from complying fully with the CMCO is in line with the need to accord top priority for public safety and the health of millions of workers impacted by the reopening of businesses since May 4,” he said.

MTUC said it has consistently urged the government to ensure that employers had complied with all the safety measures and precautions at work places and that there is strict enforcement before allowing businesses to reopen.

Covid-19 screenings of workers must happen and local councils and health authorities must certify that employers have taken this measures before being allowed to resume  business, the union asserted.

“As such, we strongly urge Azmin and other federal leaders to get their act together in ensuring Malaysia’s economic revival does not come at the expense of more people dying from the pandemic,’ he said.

He said careful planning and better coordination between states and Putrajaya was vital in reviving the economy over time while minimising the health risks to  workers and the public at all times.

“As things stand, giving state governments, businesses, workers and the public such a short notice before implementing new guidelines and imposing a relaxed form of MCO national wide is incomprehensible as this is clearly a life and death matter,” he added.

MTUC also took note that a record of 58 chambers of commerce and industry associations, in record speed, had issued a statement urging the nine states to immediately comply with the CMCO, citing the need to avoid disruptions to supply chains.

According to him, to MTUC, the statement by this coalition of business entities seemed solely to have been made from the economic view point, without due regard to the lingering public safety issues on the ground.

“Such statements are irresponsible to say the least, as in just a matter of few months, Covid 19 have shown to be the most contagious and deadly virus that can easily spread and kill people by the masses, on a daily basis.

”To put is simply : If we will not go into a house infested with Aedes mosquitos, can we go to work without adequate protection from an invisible and deadly enemy.  Needless to say, workers depend on the government and employers to provide that protection, and not to downplay the risk of being infected by Covid-19,” he added. – DayakDaily