KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim criticised the government tonight for refusing to shut down industries riddled with Covid-19 cases, saying this reeked of a double standard and portrayed officials as doing the bidding of rich “big taukes”.
The Opposition leader’s criticism came amid growing pressure for the Perikatan Nasional to conduct mass testing and shut down the factories and construction sites, two economic sectors that contributed to the bulk of daily cases reported in the last two months.
“The solution shouldn’t have been limited to just caging the people, enforcing the movement control order, and let alone imposing Emergency rule,” Anwar, the MP for Port Dickson, said in a talk delivered on his Facebook page.
“Do testing. These factories must resume operations as soon as possible so the best way to do that is conduct testing. That should have been the responsibility of these factories,” he added.
Public criticism against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet have mounted since the third wave of Covid-19 infections hit the country in October last year, which many blamed on the government’s refusal to heed calls for mass testing.
Mass testing would have allowed the authorities to identify, isolate positive cases quickly and let workers free of the virus return to work, critics said.
“Once all workers have been tested then we can let them work. But while testing is taking place the workers’ movement must be restricted. Otherwise we would see more factories will have outbreaks in the future,” Anwar said.
The Ministry of Health continues to report over 3,000 cases, and new clusters daily since December last year, with cases exceeding 4,000 some days. Most of the cases and clusters were found to involve workplaces.
The cases stemming from these places have also drawn attention to the deplorable treatment of workers by employers, noted Anwar.
“They are treated almost like slaves, forced to stay in small cramped lodgings, which seems to suggest employers are only interested in profits,” the Opposition leader said.
“Then you see all these politicians giving all these fiery, earth-shaking speeches, giving warnings here and there (to adhere to restrictions) but when it comes to being stern with the big taukes you dare not,” he added.