KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 ― Pakatan Harapan (PH) has criticised today Putrajaya’s decision to allow some sectors to apply for permit to reopen their businesses after the movement control order (MCO) is extended yet again.

The former ruling pact asked why several sectors ― such as hairdressers, laundry, and traditional and complementary medicine — were considered essential, and questioned the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (Miti) capacity to handle the applications.

“It is obvious that the decision to allow additional sectors to operate was not thought out properly and completely.

“The decision to allow some sectors to operate was seemingly done inconsistently,” it said in a statement co-signed by Parti Amanah Negara’s Datuk Dr Hatta Ramli, PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil, and DAP’s Ong Kian Ming.

“All this will cause more confusion and frustration among traders already suffering from the virus and the extension of the MCO,” they added.

PH said Putrajaya previously said a sector’s importance is determined by its position in the global value chain, where it has a high value-added multiplier, and its impact on sustainability ― bringing up questions why legal firms are in the list, but not other professional services such as accounting.

It also questioned whether the government will come out with proper and clear standard operating procedures (SOP), which would be a benchmark to allow an outlet or firm to continue operating.

In addition, it also questioned whether Miti has the capacity to handle thousands of application for exemption, especially when its list of sectors were vaguely defined.

“For certain economic sectors such as hardware stores, electronic outlets, and laundry, shouldn’t it be more appropriate and reasonable for the federal government to announce complete SOPs and let local authorities to process such requests, and allow them to enforce it?” it asked.

Yesterday, Putrajaya released a new list of industries allowed to operate, after earlier announcing that the movement control order (MCO) has been extended for another two weeks.

Among the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (Miti) list of outlets allowed to operate within the standard operating procedures are barbers and laundry, but not self-service outlets for the latter.

Other sectors allowed are: automotive (limited to complete built-up models, equipment, components and after-sale services such as maintenance); hardware, electrical and electronic stores and optometrists in the wholesale and retail industry; machinery and equipment and aerospace.

Also included are: science, professional and technical services including research and development (incidental to legal practice, oil and gas, Covid-19 R&D activities and testing labs); social healthcare (including registered traditional and complementary Chinese medicine practitioners) and construction related services.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Health said measures taken in the first and second phase of the MCO should be maintained, and any move to loosen it should be delayed for now.