KOTA KINABALU: Member of Parliament (MP) Chan Foong Hin criticised the Federal Government over a lack of clarity on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Movement Control Order 2.0 (MCO 2.0).
Having implemented the first round of MCO, he said the PN government should have known to provide simple, clear SOPs for the public to follow.
Chan, who is also the secretary of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sabah, opined that the business sectors that were allowed to operate during MCO could be determined by common sense, whereas the sectors or services that were prohibited from opening should comply with the directive.
For instance, night markets, reflexologies, spa, hair salons, optical shops, boutiques, sports and recreational activities (except for jogging limited to two persons from the same household and cycling), mass gatherings, tourism activities, tuition classes, music classes, dance classes, language classes, entertainment outlets, indoor playground, karaoke outlets, cinemas, meetings, seminars, exhibitions, wedding banquets, birthdays and interstate and inter-district travels were banned unless in emergency situation, while employees in essential sectors must show their work pass or employer’s authorization letter.
He said the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) has issued a statement on Tuesday detailing the permitted activities under the trade and distribution sector, which included shopping malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, laundry shops (excluding self-service), restaurants, furniture shops, jewellery stores, electric and electronics stores, stationery stores, hardware stores, pet food stores, vehicle workshops (including maintenance and parts replacement), vehicle sales and distribution centres and specialty retail stores at petrol stations.
Chan said the list was quite contentious.
“Since electric and electronics stores are allowed to operate, why not phone shops? If vehicle workshops are permitted to open, why can’t car wash services? Why are jewellery stores considered essential service?
“Boutiques are not allowed to operate due to the risk of Covid-19 transmission when customers try on the clothing. Doesn’t the same risks apply when customers try on jewellery?
“Some supermarkets sell fresh flowers so why ban florists from operating during the MCO?” he argued.
Chan said he agreed with the temporary suspension of business sectors and activities involving social interactions, such as night entertainment outlets.
However, he said there were a wide range of business sectors in the world, including new industries, which made it quite impossible for the government to specify which sector could operate or otherwise.
Hence, Chan suggested the National Security Council (NSC), Health Ministry, KPDNHEP, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and local government provide a simple and clear list of business sectors and activities that were banned instead, while the sectors that are not on the list should be allowed to operate.
He said the government should strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.