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KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — A PKR leader today criticised Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad for saying the state government wanted to reopen the border with Singapore despite the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir urged Hasni to consider the plight of medical workers battling to contain Covid-19 in the country.
He also expressed concern that the move would worsen the spread of Covid-19.
Akmal said he received feedback from constituents who expressed worry and questioned the rationale behind Hasni's announcement.
“In the current situation where Covid-19 positive cases are still being reported daily, the Johor mentri besar should be more alert on the commitment and sacrifices of the healthcare workers. Don't take the risk, and help our healthcare workers enforce the Movement Control Order.
“The enforcement of the restricted movement order is aimed at reducing human movements and physical contact, directly curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“Is the state government aboe to provide a guarantee that if the border is reopened, there would be no traffic congestion on the Johor-Singapore Causeway or on the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link (Linkedua), and ensure the road users practice social distancing?” Akmal said in a statement.
He also urged Hasni to find ways to help state residents cope during the MCO.
Akmal also asked the Johor government to engage with Singapore on how to protect the welfare of Malaysians working in Singapore.
“Though Singapore has given its commitment to help Malaysians, there was a report saying that there are Malaysian workers who were forced to sleep at public places in Singapore, yesterday,” he added.
Akmal also asked the Johor government to discuss employment issues of Malaysians working in the republic affected by the MCO.
He asked that they be paid and their jobs protected during the period.
He also proposed that the state government concentrate on efforts to help petty traders in the state, whose earning have been affected by the order, pointing to Penang as an example, after it announced a RM20 million allocation for such traders.
“Fourthly, the Johor state government can alleviate the burdens of the civil servants by crediting their salaries early, like that done by the Negri Sembilan state government. In fact, Negri Sembilan also announced a basic neccesity aid package worth RM3 million for individuals with low earning, and whose daily earnings are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said, adding that any efforts donw, must be consistent to help contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
Hasni yesterday announced that the Johor government would ask for special dispensation to reopen its borders for certain categories of Malaysians working in Singapore.
He said the categories exempted will include those with work passes issued by both Singapore and Malaysia, students studying in Singapore, technicians, specialists, those involved in logistics, transportation drivers, foreigners and also Singaporeans living in Johor.
“With the dispensation, the state government will also implement more stringent health checks on both sides of the border crossing.
“This will be part of the mitigation plan in an effort to tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease,” said Hasni after chairing a state executive council meeting held in Kota Iskandar here today.
Hasni, however, pointed out that social visitors and tourists will not be exempted from the special dispensation.
He also explained that the state government has set up a committee to come up with a mitigation plan to address the matter of reopening the border checkpoints with Singapore.