KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Lawmakers across the aisle have criticised confusing movement restrictions, as they questioned the rationale of locking down almost the entire country at the cost of the economy.
Amanah president and former Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu told the Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia will face huge consequences if the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) continues, especially in the Klang Valley that has been under movement restrictions since October 14.
“Klang Valley represents more than 40 per cent of the country’s income. If there is a continuation in restrictions here, then the economy, for those who do not look at statistics, will see bad consequences,” the Kota Raja MP from Selangor said while debating Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat today. “That’s why the allocation for mental health has been added”.
Moreover, Mohamad questioned the government for implementing a lockdown for the whole of Kedah, when there were only five Covid-19 cases in the northern state. According to the Kedah state health department, only eight coronavirus infections were reported yesterday. Most of the mukim (sub-districts) in the state are green, recording zero new cases in the past 14 days.
The government has implemented a CMCO on all states in Peninsular Malaysia, except for Kelantan, Perlis, and Pahang, from November 9 till December 9, despite Covid-19 cases disproportionately hitting Sabah and Labuan the hardest.
Mohamad told a story of a restaurant owner in Temerloh, Pahang, 133km away from Kuala Lumpur, who lost their income because of the lockdown in the Klang Valley. People living in CMCO areas are generally not allowed to cross district or state borders, other than for work purposes.
“Two days ago, I was in Temerloh, I stopped at a restaurant that sells ikan patin. They complained, saying that now their business has gone down. I asked why. Kuala Lumpur people no longer go to their restaurant because of lockdown and movement restrictions,” Mohamad said.
Besides that, former Prime Minister Najib Razak from Umno and former Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye from PKR also questioned the government’s confusing Movement Control Orders (MCO) and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“When the government sets an MCO or SOPs for MCO, by right, the SOP should stay for at least one to two weeks, based on the location of the infection,” PKR health spokesperson Dr Lee said, while intervening Najib’s debate on Budget 2021 at Parliament today.
“But now, when MCO is announced, CMCO, or EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) is announced, the whole public is confused, not just the public, but I am sure the ministers themselves are confused with the SOPs for MCO, CMCO, and EMCO,” Dr Lee said.
Dr Lee asked Najib’s opinion on what should be done to improve the MCO and SOP rules frequently implemented by the government.
Najib agreed that the way the government communicates the SOPs and MCOs causes confusion and may be ambiguous.
“For the communication of SOPs on what can be done and not be done, MCO, and all, perhaps it should be clearer so that it is not confusing to the public,” the Pekan MP told the Dewan Rakyat.
“There is some ambiguity, confusion, when an announcement is made.”
On October 12, Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that a CMCO would be implemented in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya from October 14. At the same time, the Defence Ministry announced that dine-ins will not be allowed during the period of implementation, but only takeaways and drive-throughs.
A day after that, on October 13, Ismail Sabri then said dine-ins are allowed in the Klang Valley areas during the CMCO period. The same changes were made for rules on gym closures, whereby when CMCO was first implemented, gyms were not allowed to operate, but a few days later the government allowed gyms to operate.
Najib, during his debate on Budget 2021 today, also pointed out that the format used for Budget 2021 was confusing and all over the place.
“One of the issues that has become a problem when I study this budget is, Honourable Finance Minister — Honorable Port Dickson (Anwar Ibrahim) also mentioned — the allocations are put all over the place, it is difficult for us to search,” Najib told the Finance Minister today.
“I, as a former Finance Minister, am also confused to search for a particular program,” Najib said.
“We don’t want to say the allocation is reduced, then Your Honourable says it is another place, but when we look at another place, we don’t know where.”
He highlighted that the next budget format should be clear even for a layman to understand. It was pointed out yesterday by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim that the RM3 billion promised by the government to purchase a Covid-19 vaccine is not seen anywhere in the budget.