KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali could be making a mistake by opening the economy on full throttle now.
He said a soft landing is the only way forward, till a vaccine is found, to stop the Covid-19 virus from spreading.
“We can’t have good economy if our people are sick,” he said, adding it is quite tricky to allow business and industries to operate fully.
“International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is allowing businesses and industries to operate in full, but provided they practise stringent measures enforced by by the movement control order (MCO).
“But that to me will be quite tricky. How do you control social distancing in businesses like restaurants, hair salons, massage parlours, pubs, religious gatherings in churches and mosques and cinemas?” he asked.
“One by one, we open the industries where we can cut the chain of the spread of Covid-19.
“You can’t approach the opening of our business based on the “One size fits all” philosophy.
“We must do a soft landing in the re-opening of our economy, otherwise Covid-19 cases will spike and we have to start all over again,” warned Masing.
Azmin, in a statement on Monday, announced that economic sectors that had been allowed to operate during the movement control order (MCO) period could ramp up their operations to full capacity starting yesterday.
Azmin said this was decided in the National Security Council meeting yesterday which discussed the recommendations of the Economic Action Council.
He said the meeting reviewed the studies and recommendations by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), Bank Negara Malaysia and national sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
“Realising the urgent need to tackle the current economic crisis, the government has agreed that the economic sectors that have been allowed to operate during phases 1, 2 and 3 of the MCO (be allowed) to raise their operational capacity to the fullest and to operate without time limits in accordance with their respective industry’s needs.
“The parties in the sectors are required to adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP) that has been established. Failure to adhere to the SOP will result in the permission to operate to be revoked immediately, and will result in legal action,” said Azmin.
He said companies that had been given permits to operate did not have to apply to Miti again for permission.
This initiative, he added, would help in the recovery of the supply chain for products and services to fulfil domestic and overseas demands.
“This will surely give a positive impact to the income of companies, especially for small and medium businesses.
“While the government has provided this relaxation (of the MCO restrictions), the people and businesses must initiate a ‘new norm’ by practising social distancing at the workplace, hygiene and health control guidelines,” Azmin added.
Since the implementation of the MCO on March 18, businesses that had been allowed to operate included essential services and manufacturers of critical products. The list was expanded in mid-April to include certain non-essential sectors.
As at April 15, the essential services were: water; energy; security and defence; solid waste and public cleansing management and sewerage; communications and the Internet; banking and finance; e-commerce; transportation, port and airport services; fuel and lubricants; logistics confined to the provision of essential services; and hotels and accommodations.
Critical product manufacturing included the manufacturing and importing of staple foodstuffs such as rice, sugar, bread, agriculture and fisheries, home goods and products such as detergents and disinfectants, personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, packaging and printing materials including ink, medical and surgical devices, as well as the manufacturing of parts of medical devices such as ventilators.