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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has today painted a grim picture for Malaysians should another full lockdown is imposed on economic activities like last year, revealing that 2.8 million people may risk losing their jobs.
In his press briefing today, Ismail, who is also defence minister, said that 2.8 million more people also stand to lose their income if another movement control order (MCO) as strict as 2020’s is imposed to tackle Covid-19.
“The B40 group would lose an estimated RM6.45 billion a month, with their average household income of RM2,400,” he said referring to the Bottom 40th per centile of income levels.
Ismail said that according to a report from the Companies Commission of Malaysia, 13,445 companies have shuttered since the initial MCO in March until October last year.
“This means that many workers have lost their jobs. This is one of the effects that the government has to consider before making any decision,” he said.
Malaysia is now under a second, more relaxed MCO dubbed MCO 2.0.
Ismail said rumours on social media over past days that the government would impose a full lockdown from February 4 was causing public alarm and panic buying.
“Yesterday, the Health director-general hinted that on February 4, it is very likely that the conditional movement control order (CMCO) will be implemented again. The announcement was greeted with various reactions with some agreeing and some disagreeing.
“Some suggested that the total lockdown be introduced, similar to the first MCO, by closing all business activities and sitting at home. But there are those who do not agree, especially the micro-traders who will be affected,” Ismail explained.
He stressed any decision on the matter must take into account both lives and livelihoods.
It would also be based on the Health Ministry’s recommendations and discussed at the level of the National Security Council.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday expressed hope for Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation to stabilise in two weeks’ time, with the MCO in place now.
He said preventing wild fluctuations was necessary for the MCO to be effective and lifted eventually.
Dr Noor Hisham said that based on the MOH’s projection models, the extension of the MCO to February 4 should allow the country to return to the CMCO.
When asked to justify the more lenient approach with the latest MCO, as compared to when it was implemented in March last year, Dr Noor Hisham explained this was due to the government learning from their past approaches to the lockdown.
He said this was after the government realised a complete lockdown like the first MCO was “overdoing it”, pointing out how a targeted approach to areas with high infectivity was needed instead of a blanket approach.