Sapa president expresses outrage over face mask shortage in Sarawak

Dominique Ng (file photo).

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KUCHING, March 24: Sapa president Dominique Ng today lashed out at the ‘unbearable’ protective face masks shortage in Sarawak and the federal government’s response in increasing the ceiling price to RM2 a piece when the item was sorely needed.

“However, what seems to have been missed by both (federal and state) governments is the need to urgently get the face mask supplies and make them widely available to the masses.

“Just one simple and urgent item like face masks! Try look around and see if you can buy one now! I haven’t been able to find any since after the Chinese New Year!” he lamented in a statement today.

Ng was commenting about the 16 proactive measures involving RM1.15 billion rolled out by the Sarawak government to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and protect the well-being of Sarawakians under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Aid Package versus the federal government’s four measures to ease people’s financial burden.

Noting that the state government has placed an order of two million face masks from China that will then be distributed free to Sarawakians through the State Disaster Management Committee, Ng argued the supply would not even be enough for every Sarawakian.

“It is only a one-off thing, which does not solve the problem the Sarawak public is now facing. There are about three million Sarawakians!

“Similarly the 10 million free face masks supposedly arriving from China for all Malaysians, and reportedly stuck somewhere, somehow. There are at least 30 million Malaysians, not counting the illegals!” he added.

Such freebies, the Sarawak Association for People’s Aspirations (Sapa) president asserted, would not be adequate for even a one-time use, let alone the entire Movement Control Order (MCO) period and the months thereafter.

“Malaysia is a producer of face masks, mind you! But now we hear the grouses that the raw materials for making masks have gone up 600 per cent!

“Yet they would admit that China is selling them at 35 sen per piece! After adding transportation and other costs, it can’t be more than 50 sen at most upon reaching Malaysian shores,” he opined.

As such, Ng emphasised that there was absolutely no justification for raising the ceiling price for three-ply face masks to RM2 per piece, which was recently announced by the newly minted Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi.

“We the people of Sarawak are not asking for free masks, contrary to what some politicians may think. We are only asking for masks to be made available, as cheaply as possible and as soon as possible! No ‘if’s, no ‘but’s, and no more excuses please!,” he urged.

Meanwhile, Ng opined the Sarawak government’s 16 measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 was far more thought out than those announced by the federal’s.

“The state’s one is heaps better than the measures as part of the economic stimulus package by the federal government.

“It is indeed a big laugh at the federal government to think that allowing us to withdraw from our EPF (Employees Provident Fund), our very own money, is a good initiative!” he added. — DayakDaily