Pelawan reps wants Sarawak govt to assist businesses impacted by Covid-19

SIBU, April 30: The State government is advised not to neglect small business owners who are not allowed to operate during the enforcement of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and review their standard operating procedures (SOP) to minimise confusion.

Pelawan assemblyman David Wong Kee Woan, in a statement, said that the current SOP in Sibu is “a confusion where even the police as the enforcement unit can be uninformed”.

He cited the recent case of farmers from Sungai Bidut who were not being allowed to pass Igan bridge to distribute their produce before 6am.

“Now, people are confused about businesses that are allowed to operate and worried about being slapped with heavy fines. State government frequently changes the SOP and allowed list has only worsened the matter,” he said.

According to Wong, owners of business, including electric appliances shops, tailors, and barbers had been complaining that they are always the first ones to be ordered not to operate whenever a new control order is imposed.

“They complained why are their businesses always the first to be closed when the nature of their businesses does not cause crowd gathering unlike markets or eateries. Their concerns are understandable as their income has been severely impacted since the implementation of CMCO in the State,” he emphasised.

Wong suggested that if the State government does not provide financial aid to these business owners, it should allow them to operate, provided that strict SOP is followed and with no crowd gathering.

“On the other hand, if the State government is of opinion that businesses must be closed in order to control the epidemic, sufficient financial aids must be provided to them as these people still need to bear their expenses such as employee wages, rents etc,” he said.

He added even though CMCO has been implemented in Sarawak for months where only essential services are allowed to operate, the epidemic has not seen much improvement.

As such, he asserted this calls for the government to review its policies to better control the epidemic while minimising the impact on people’s livelihood.

“CMCO has taken effect for months in Sarawak, yet bears little fruit and we have repeatedly called for a total lockdown to break the Covid-19 transmission chain, provided that the State government must provide financial aids to people and businesses,” he added.

The CMCO in Sarawak has been extended to May 17, and Wong said small business owners are worried that further extensions of the CMCO will be even more taxing to them.

“We appreciate the contribution and sacrifices made by civil servants, especially frontliners, and we support the State government’s decision to provide special assistance aid to them.

“But I urge the State government to also provide financial aids to the people and business owners that chose to stay home during the pandemic as they too, are making sacrifices to combat the pandemic,” he urged. — DayakDaily