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KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) said that all states in the country should be given the flexibility to decide the pace at which their respective economies are reopened under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon in a statement today said that the state governments are more aware of the situation on the ground and should be given the trust to decide when and how to allow businesses to resume.
“MTUC feels the nine states which did not fully comply with Putrajaya’s wish to wind down on the movement control order (MCO) restrictions merely acted to protect the safety of the rakyat without losing sight of the need to restart the economy.
“The leadership of these states acted conscientiously and with a sense of utmost responsibility to place health and public safety ahead of economic considerations as should be the case,” Solomon said.
On Monday, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said that state governments may face legal action from corporations if they refuse to follow the CMCO.
Azmin said that on April 27, the proposal paper was tabled during Economic Action Council (EAC) chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, which also involved representatives from the private sector and the government.
He said the paper was then again tabled on April 28 in the National Security Council (NSC) meeting that involved mentri besar and chief ministers of all states.
Solomon, however, brought up Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s revelation that Azmin had agreed to a follow-up meeting on April 30, but that did not materialise.
He said this fact has not been disputed by Azmin.
“Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow revealed that Azmin had agreed to a follow-up meeting on April 30 to discuss new guidelines for specific industries but the meeting did not take place,” said Solomon adding that such a meeting could easily be minuted for the sake of transparency.
“MTUC does not wish to get embroiled in any squabble between state leaderships and leaders of the federal government. Our support for the state government's decision to hold off, albeit temporarily, from complying fully with the CMCO is in line with the need to accord top priority to safety and health of millions of workers impacted by the reopening of businesses since May 4.
“As such, we strongly urge Azmin and other deferral leaders to get their act together in ensuring Malaysia’s economic revival does not come at the expense of more people dying from the pandemic,” he added.
Putrajaya has come under heavy pressure to restart the economy after implementing the MCO on March 18. It said the country had incurred losses of up to RM2.4 billion per day since the MCO was enforced.
In order to alleviate some of the stress on government coffers, Putrajaya decided to ease restrictions on the MCO and implement the CMCO, which was greeted positively by almost all business operators but drew the ire of the people as many were still worried about returning to normalcy with the virus still out there.
However, Solomon said the government is caving into the demands of business owners and industry associations.
He chided the associations that issued statements demanding the nine states adhere to Putrajaya's call. He said they were quick to send the statement but none of them mentioned anything about doing screenings on their foreign workers.
“MTUC also takes note that a record 58 chambers of commerce and industry associations, in record speed issued a statement urging the nine states to immediately comply with the CMCO, citing the need to avoid disruption to supply chains.
“The statement made by this coalition of business entities seems to come from only the economic viewpoint, without due regard for public safety issues on the ground,” Solomon pointed out.