SDDMC refutes allegations of favouritism and racism in enforcing lockdowns

Dr Annuar Rapaee

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SIBU, Aug 7: Sibu Divisional Disaster Management Committee (SDDMC) has refuted allegations that it practices favouritism and racism in enforcing lockdowns on areas with high Covid-19 cases.

Its coordinator Dr Annuar Rapaee, in a statement, said such accusations of favouritism and racism hurled at the committee were unfounded.

Citing Jalan Tong Sang and Jalan Tiong Hua as an example, he said although the number of cases were very high in the two areas, a lockdown could not be enforced and instead a different approach was used.

He explained these two areas were too “porous” geographically and would be difficult to cordon off, adding that people could still slip in and out of the areas easily.

The Nangka assemblyman said a different approach was adopted for the two areas in which all residents were told to stay home and get swabbed.

“To encourage the residents here to be swabbed, we provided vouchers for swab tests at private hospitals. The approach was definitely different from that of Sibu Jaya and Kampung Sentosa,” he said.

Dr Annuar assured that there was no racial inclination in its decision.

“After all, we did also shut down the Sibu central market as much as we understood that it would affect more than 1,000 traders there.  The accusations of favouritism and racism were unfounded,” he clarified.

He recalled that throughout the Pasai Cluster incident, three areas which were considered as Ground Zero were placed under lockdown – Pasai Siong itself, Town Villa apartments residential area (Feb 26 to March 4),  Sibu Jaya Flats (March 5 to March 11), and Kampung Sentosa Resettlement Scheme (Feb 27  to March 12).

During the lockdown in these three areas, major operations involving coordinating and mobilising numerous agencies which included the police, army, Rela, Welfare Department, Ministry of Health and local councils were conducted.

Dr Annuar considered the Sibu Jaya Flats as the most significant Ground Zero as they are a high-density residential area with large and extended families living together in congested flats.

“This is the perfect environment for viruses to spread quickly.  Some of the residents had to undergo four rounds of swab tests until we could determine that there were no longer positive cases in the area,” he said.

He said although the lockdown was not 100 per cent successful as some cases had spilled over to other areas through workplace infections, SDDMC managed to bring the numbers down through the lockdowns.  — DayakDaily