KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government’s decision to not implement the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) has received support from political leaders.
United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the state government’s choice is the right one in ensuring efforts to overcome the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in Sabah would not go to waste.
“Sabah was the first state to decide on the cancellation of all flights from China in January, despite the fact that the influx of Chinese tourists into this state contributed to the high revenue in the tourism sector.
“At that time, Wuhan city was identified as the ground zero site of the virus, and if the flight cancellation had not been taken, Sabah would have been far worse than we are today,” he explained.
However, Tangau, also Sabah Trade and Industry Minister, said all companies or enterprises that had received permission to operate during the MCO can still run as usual.
“We understand that economic aspects are important to the people’s survival and development of the country.
“However, let the situation be completely safe and no further cases of infection are recorded as the same situation will surely happen if we make the mistake of taking the wrong step,” he said, reminding that Sarawak had also taken the same step to not implement the CMCO there.
The CMCO was announced by the Prime Minister on May 1 and will start today.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew also supported the wise decision of the Chief Minister not to implement the CMCO.
Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, stressed that it is better to be safe than to risk the potential spread of Covid-19.
“Essentially, the State Government’s health and safety concerns for Sabahans transcend other considerations.
“In this regard, I urge the public to continue observing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the existing Movement Control Order (MCO) that ends on May 12,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
Sabah Rural Development Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick pointed out that not implementing the CMCO in Sabah was another justified move to overcome the Covid-19 in the state.
“I fully support the decision as stated by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal as we want to ensure efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 would go on successfully,” he said.
“The MCO (Movement Control Order) is effective till May 12 so we should give this period the best chance of succeeding in the prevention of this pandemic,” added Ewon, who is also Kadamaian assemblyman.
He said the move is also a reflection of the government’s concern towards the safety of the people, especially in terms of life-threatening diseases such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That is the reason, the Sabah government had taken the early step of stopping direct flights from China to Sabah. Next, taking its own unique steps compared to the decision announced by the Federal government,” he said.
“In fact, the measures taken by the state government have been successful in addressing the spread of this pandemic, in which the recovery rate is higher than the rate of new patients recorded in recent weeks.
“I believe the move to not implement the CMCO starting tomorrow (May 4) is very reasonable and could make this pandemic containment effort more successful.”
Ewon also supported the decision to allow the operation of several business sectors on a conditional basis in Sabah as announced by the State Secretary.
“I am confident we can prepare to fully open up all the business and industrial sectors with the full cooperation of the people throughout the MCO.
“The decision of the state government will be announced by the State Secretary and we hope the pandemic can be fully overcome with the adherence to the announced measures,” he added.
Democratic Action Party (DAP) Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu, Chan Foong Hin, also concurs with the state government’s collective decision not to enforce the relaxation of the MCO.
Chan, who is also DAP Sabah secretary, said that as a lawmaker himself, he had wondered whether the state government had such powers to defy the Federal Government, but came to the conclusion that the state had an even more overarching duty to protect the public health of Sabahans.
“Under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, public health is listed under the Concurrent List, whilst Local Government is listed under the State List.
“The Sabah state government’s decision to continue with a lockdown of most business sectors could be enforced by way of local government enforcement (withdrawal of local council licence, raids, etc),” he said in statement yesterday.
Chan said numerous state NGOs and civil societies had raised their concerns regarding the abrupt reopening of most economic sectors in Sabah.
He said that whilst he had welcomed the reopening of most business sectors by the Federal Government, he would prefer for it to be gradual and properly planned to avoid a sudden explosion of new Covid-19 cases by the formation of new clusters.
“I trust in the wisdom of the Sabah state government led by our Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal,” he said.
Chan noted that drastic and unpopular moves that the state government had unilaterally taken prior to this such as banning of foreign tourists as early as January and prohibiting the operation of the oil palm sector in six districts in Sabah has proven to be right moves in containing the spread of Covid-19 at the end of the day.
“The state government would definitely be in a better position to decide what are the best counter-actions and the best time to execute them being closer to the ground compared to the Federal Government far away across the South China Sea in Putrajaya,” he said.
Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) Wira Central deputy chief Mohd Ismail Ayob said the people are relieved with and fully supported the Sabah government’s decision to stick to the MCO till May 12.
Mohd Ismail said since the Conditional MCO had been announced, majority of the people had expressed concern because Sabah had not fully recovered from the Covid-19.
“This worry intensified yesterday after the latest development of the Covid-19 infection nationwide had returned to three digits although it had previously been reduced to two digits,” he said.
“The matter in mind, if the CMCO is implemented, is the increase of risk for a new wave of infection in the state.”
Ismail said Sabah should defend its green zones and ensure the other zones have fully recovered from Covid-19.
“If the peninsula wants to implement the CMCO, we can observe first and learn what improvements are needed until the end of MCO so the implementation in Sabah will be better,” he said.