LETTERS: The decision to extend the Movement Control Order (MCO) for another two weeks from April 1 until April 14 is inevitable considering the grave situation with regard to the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and increase in the number of cases and deaths.
The extension will undoubtedly aggravate the hardship of many, particularly the low-income workers, petty traders, small businesses, taxi drivers, the self-employed and many others.
Their loss of income in view of the stay home order will be greatly felt.
As a matter of fact, this pandemic and the subsequent MCO have affected all strata of Malaysian society regardless of the different income groups.
Employers are also badly affected due to the closure of their offices and workplaces as they will have to worry about the payment of salaries for their staff and the loss of business due to the outbreak.
Employees are even more worried and fear retrenchment by their employers during this very critical period.
If employers are compelled to lay off their employees due to business disruption and severe loss of income, this will result in social problems in the country.
In light of such a scenario, it is hoped that the government will introduce another economic stimulus package plan that will help employers to avoid any retrenchment exercise.
I hope the stimulus package to be introduced will be truly people-friendly and taking into account all those groups hardest hit by the MCO.
It is hoped that the government will provide a one-off cash payment to the most badly affected group to tide them over this difficult period.
At this critical juncture, it should be the government’s responsibility to help employers by introducing measures to help them remain in business and the employees continue to remain employed.
It is important for employers to be assisted to encourage them to keep their staff during this very crucial period.
The government has a responsibility to look into the plight of employers who do not have the financial capacity to meet the full payment of their employees’ wages due to the MCO.
In this connection, I am of view that the tripartite partners made up of the government, employers and employees must work together and reach a win-win situation for all in order to prevent any retrenchment exercise.
What is of paramount importance now is to beef up our health service to cope with the increase of Covid-19 cases.
This means that a much bigger allocation is needed to purchase medical supplies, particularly, in acquiring more personal protection equipment (PPEs) to protect our doctors and nurses from infection.
Our medical staff are working round the clock to battle the virus at the frontlines and they must be adequately protected.
PPEs also need to be provided to all workers, including garbage collectors for protection against the virus.
So far, Malaysians have been responsible and responsive to the call by the authorities to restrict all non-essential movement. The next three weeks will be a further testing period and it is hoped that there will be full compliance of the MCO.
It is hoped that more charitable bodies, corporate citizens and philanthropists will continue to come forward to donate in cash or kind to help combat Covid-19.
We pay tribute to the sacrifices of doctors, nurses and all health workers in the frontlines. They are all unsung heroes. We should all help to lighten their loads by complying fully with the MCO and stay at home to halt the transmission of the coronavirus so that we can together see the end of the Covid-19 scourge.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Alliance For Safe Community