LETTER | The consecutive declaration of first the movement control order (MCO) for five states and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya yesterday, followed by the emergency today has taken Malaysians, especially workers, by surprise.
The conditional MCO in three other states was also needed as inter-state movements have contributed greatly to the rise beside the mandatory screening of foreign workers.
However, in view of the steep spike in the number of Covid-19 positive cases over the last month, the MCO was absolutely necessary as the lives of Malaysians matter most. This would act as a circuit breaker and bring the surge under control.
As for the emergency which effectively means no election can be held for now Nube is of the view that this is necessary to cool down the political heat which was seen rising by the day over the last few weeks.
In fact, Malaysians on the ground were worried of the consequences as the Perikatan Nasional government was said to have lost its majority with more MPs expected to do so today.
With this move, there is some form of relief that the government and other politicians can now pool their resources and energy in helping the poor Malaysians who are now badly hit by the pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, with many not even having recovered from it.
The priority for the government now is to ensure no Malaysian starves or is left out during these times. Quick cash aid must be given out and not take days to announce and implement as life is really tough for the B40 workers.
Many self-employed and low-income workers from the B40 category who are daily paid will be in dire straits.
Like during the first MCO, some of the stimulus packages were not executed fairly to the target group. This should not be the case as the government has enough reserves to ensure aid reaches the group that deserves it, as soon as possible and it should be not seen to enrich anyone in authority.
The government must publicise the aid paid to companies to ensure they are truly deserving companies.
This is because we know for a fact that many irresponsible employers in the tourism and hospitality industry who have reaped billions of profits over the years seems to be acting irresponsibly by laying off workers during pandemic since early 2020.
An independent committee should be formed from the public with no political attachment to ensure and oversee the subsidies from the govt is executed for its intended purpose.
The government must issue a very strong warning followed by tough implementation of laws that require employers to keep the workers and not use the new MCO to further reduce their workforce.
In this context, the SMEs must also be given aid but only to the smaller ones to keep their businesses going. There will be many institutions like certain irresponsible banks which will take advantage to retrench workers by asking them to work from home first, slowly making them redundant by outsourcing their functions. We are seeing it happen now during the first MCO.
Nube urges the cabinet ministers to play a more effective role instead of playing lips service and not addressing the issues raised by Unions as we have seen in the past.
Such ministers should not conspire with the business community to promote unemployment and exploitation as it will be a betrayal to the people who elected them and the trust of the king and the prime minister who appointed them to serve the Rakyat.
In view of the long stretch of MCO and emergency that may continue till Aug 1 or longer till the Covid-19 infection is brought under control, the government must implement the critically needed Emergency Employment Regulation.
This is because if the rakyat continues to lose their livelihood and the government does not protect them, the rakyat will lose confidence in this government.
Further, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has assured the people in this speech that the government will continue to protect the people. Therefore, this urgent regulation must be implemented to protect the livelihood of the workers.
The government must provide aid to SMEs who are unable to sustain during this period to pay the workers their wages.
The government should advise the king to order the giant industries who have been securing billions in profit to donate towards this aid to enable the government to assist the B40, M40 and SMEs.
In the banking sector, we have many customers who are in a dire state of affairs. Just like how the private health section will be required to assist the public health to curb Covid-19. This must be done in a transparent and fair manner.
Those who have must now contribute to help those who don’t have in the spirit of “saving humanity”.
Make all initiatives implemented public, transparent, and fair so that the rakyat will be able to see the efforts put in by the government to help the people.
Nube urges the government to ensure that politicians, too, behave themselves and not practise double standards which have been a cause of anger among the rakyat during the last MCO and conditional MCO periods. All Malaysians must be treated equally under the law.
No one, politicians and employers, should use this pandemic to cling on to power or profiteer as it is the most inhumane thing to do while the workers suffer. Good governance must prevail both in the private sector and the government.
Nube thanks the king and the prime minister for taking these bold steps to maintain peace and harmony in Malaysia as for now, we urge all parties to come together and work as a team to lift the nation out of the doldrum it is in.
Sticking their necks into the sand and saying everything is under control when it is not is going back to their old ways. Malaysia cannot afford to have such leaders anymore.
J SOLOMON is general secretary, National Union of Banking Employees (Nube).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.