CMCO: Would the people in charge please stand up?

A traffic policeman conducts checks on vehicles during a roadblock on Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A traffic policeman conducts checks on vehicles during a roadblock on Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur October 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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COMMENTARY, Oct 21 — With under 12 hours until the sudden recommendation-turned-directive for all managerial and supervisory staff in areas under a conditional movement control order (CMCO) to work from home, there is still a frightful degree of uncertainty.

This is in addition to the already-illogical rules put in place when the CMCO across the Klang Valley and Sabah was first announced, such as allowing all retail outlets to stay open yet curiously limiting Malaysians to going out only for essential supply runs. 

We also shan’t delve into the daily changes to what are meant to be “standard operating procedures”; how can anything be standard if they shift on an almost daily basis?

Right now, businesses are scratching their heads trying to decipher the pantomime that is government directives about what may or may not be done from midnight tonight, such as who may attend their workplaces and what must be done before they may do so.

At least today we found out that Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement yesterday that managerial and supervisory staff “need not” attend office was in fact that they “must” work from home.

Then there is today’s hazy allowance for “10 per cent” of those with administrative and supervisory functions to attend office for limited hours weekly. “Ten per cent” of what? All staff? Only management staff? What if a company only has four people in management? Even one of these would exceed this arbitrary “10 per cent.”

Yesterday, Ismail Sabri also announced that those still going to work in Covid-19 red zones must take a swab test for the coronavirus before doing so. However, there is again no clarity at all about this.

Does this requirement apply to workplaces located in red zones? Or to employees residing in red zones? Or only where both are true? What about commutes through a red zone? 

Speaking of “red zones”, we also don’t know how the authorities are defining these for the purpose of enforcing the work-from-home order.

Yes, we understand that a “red zone” is any location with over 41 confirmed cases over a period of 14 days, but how grossly or finely are they categorising this?

Are they considering, say, the entire district as a “red zone”, which, in this case, could mean the entirety of Petaling. Or just the individual subdivisions within the districts? We still haven’t been told.

Also, when must the results of these Covid-19 swab tests be presented? With the WFH directive coming into effect in just a few hours, it does not seem reasonable that anyone who did not already take a swab test yesterday would have a result slip to wave at the police when they try to go to work tomorrow.

And we still haven’t examined the advisability of making tens of thousands of workers congregate outside public health clinics to get tested.

All this chaos and confusion had been understandable when the movement control order was dropped suddenly on the whole country in March, but after over half a year, this is just unendurable now.

We keep being told that compliance with the SOPS has been weak, but can Malaysians really be blamed when it has been so incredibly hard to learn just what it is exactly that we are meant to comply with?

It cannot be that we, the people, should keep having to figure this out on our own, only to be made to pay a RM1,000 fine each time we misinterpret the guidelines from our government.

So, please, whoever it is who is still in charge, just tell us what it is you want us to do.

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