KUCHING, June 19 — Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How said the announcement of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) is raising more questions from Malaysians than it is providing answers to placate the swelling public discontent amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) Southern Zone Taskforce Facebook Live last night, the PSB lawmaker said the NRP marked the first time an exit strategy was laid out after over 18 months since the first Covid-19 case was detected in the country, and 15 months after the first movement control order (MCO) was enforced to tame the pandemic.
“The biggest drawback of the NRP is its uncertainty in timeline, and subjecting its progress of phase transition on various indicators, creating doubts on even the present enforcement of the MCO and whether the national lock-down will cease on June 28.
“In this respect, it exposed yet again the lack of coordination between the federal and Sarawak governments in basing an indicator on the national daily Covid-19 cases instead of differentiating it by the three regions of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah,” he said.
On the national figures of daily Covid-19 cases, See said it appeared from the past week that there was an encouraging downward trend.
Despite so, he said the picture is not as rosy on the Sarawak front.
On the whole, he said the national daily Covid-19 cases had significantly dropped to 6,440, as compared to 9,020 on May 29 and 6,849 last Friday (June 11).
In Sarawak, he said the daily Covid-19 cases yesterday was 536, as compared to 726 on May 29 and 699 last Friday.
The drop was marginal, considering the fact that Sarawak had registered 744 and 718 new cases on June 14 and 15, he added.
“In comparison of the weekly national figures and Sarawak, the divergence is most obvious. On the national front, we have registered 38,793 cases for the week of June 12 to 18 and averaging 5,542 per day. This is an encouraging reduction from a total of 43,289 cases in the previous week June 5 to 11, averaging 6,184 a day.
“In Sarawak, we have registered 4,240 cases for the week of June 12 to 18, averaging 606 per day. The reduction is from a total of 4410 cases in the previous week June 5 to 11, averaging 630 a day. The improvement is certainly not as positive as that of the national,” he pointed out.
Given this, he queried whether Sarawak was on the same page with Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah with regards the implementation of the NRP.
He said, with the uncertainties surrounding the phase transition, there was serious doubt in the reopening of the various economic sectors in the country and particularly Sarawak.
“At this point, it is clear that much of the economic sectors will not be reopened anytime soon, most will be in September to October, while many will have to wait until November to December, when we are projected to enter the fourth and last phase.
“With the information and statistics in their possession, I am hopeful that the federal government will review its Pemerkasa-Plus aid packages particularly with regards the objective of supporting business continuity,” asserted See.
He felt that the federal government should bear in mind the constitutional rights of all working Malaysians to hold on their jobs and employment, their means of livelihood not only for themselves but to their families as well.
He said the Pemerkasa-Plus aid packages was announced on May 31, prior to the enforcement of the MCO on June 1, not taking into account the MCO extension for two weeks and the present and further restrictions of the NRP of which the majority of the economic sectors will not be reopened before September or October and many will have to wait until November or December, providing that the NRP projections are correct.
Hence, the original aid packages designed to support business continuity for a month is grossly inadequate, he said.
“In addition to the one-month subsidy announced in the Pemerkasa-Plus aid packages, the Wage Subsidy Programme under Social Security Organisation (Socso) should be variably be extended for additional two to four months for those economic sectors that are facing the restrictions and not reopened until Phase 3 and 4 of the NRP.”
Similarly, he said the schemes to assist the various industrial, commercial and business sectors for their continuity, such as the targeted relief and recovery facilities for affected small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be reviewed, enlarged and extended to provide cover for those affected sectors.
“Many of our SMEs and local industrialists will need the job-support scheme to fund and sustain the salaries and wages of their employees.
“It cannot be over-emphasised that it is the duty and responsibility of the government to ensure that all working Malaysians will stay employed and their livelihood are conscientiously safeguarded during this trying time,” he added. — Borneo Post Online