Two Johor assemblypersons have called for action to prevent more Covid-19 related deaths linked to a microelectronics factory based in the Tanjung Agas Industrial Zone, Muar, Johor.
Tangkak assemblyperson Ee Chin Li, Bentayan assemblyperson Ng Yak Howe and Johor DAP executive committee member Lim Eng Guan in a joint statement today said operations of STMicroelectronics (STM) manufacturing facility had led to 400 positive Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths from mid-June to date.
However, according to a state government statement, there were 13 deaths.
They said the Health Ministry had on July 9 confirmed the "Persiaran Agas" workplace cluster, after a first round of screening, based on the semiconductor manufacturing facility's address.
"Now, we were informed that the number of infected employees already hit 400 excluding friends and relatives who were indirectly infected.
"Since last year, although some employees have been working from home, a large number of workers especially those on the production floors continue to work on site.
"Only when confirmed cases were detected, we were told the facility would partially close for a few days for disinfection," they added.
The Persiaran Agas cluster recorded 413 active cases as of yesterday, according to Health Ministry data.
'Non-compliance' with rules
In a statement this afternoon, state cabinet member in charge of health Vidyananthan Ramanadhan said there were 462 cases related to the Persiaran Agas cluster of which 207 were factory workers and another 255 involved their family members or acquaintances.
"Thirteen deaths have been reported, with nearly all of them suffering from a comorbidity, with an average of four days between the onset of their symptoms and when they first received treatment," he said, according to Free Malaysia Today.
He confirmed that a section of the factory was ordered to close for sanitisation and investigations on July 3.
The entire factory was ordered to close between July 14 and 20 and resumed operations the next day.
"The main reason for the wide outbreak was workers’ non-compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the workplace, and also within the community. This can be seen by the high percentage of cases involving the community.
"The factory’s operations are still being monitored daily by the District Health Office until today to ensure SOPs are complied with," he said.
According to China Press, the Tangkak District Health Office had ordered the factory's production department to close until Aug 2.
Meanwhile, a Facebook post believed to be by a factor worker mourning the 15 deaths has been shared over 1,000 times since yesterday.
Malaysiakini's check on the post that also tagged Health Minister Dr Adham Baba found many comments believed to be by the factory workers and Muar residents who highlighted other potential related deaths and cases.
The DAP trio pointed out STM's status as a multinational semiconductor giant listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with exceptional financial results in the last two years despite the global pandemic crisis.
They cited the company's annual report last year that recorded a nett income of US$1.11 billion (RM4.7 billion) on top of total revenue of US$10.2 billion.
"The market cap of STM is approximately US$30 billion which is equivalent to RM126 billion, larger than Maybank which is the largest publicly listed company in Malaysia," they said.
Given its strong finances, the DAP trio urged STM to make public its mitigation plan to curb the spread of the virus, taking into account its large number of workers residing across Northern Johor.
Malaysiakini has contacted Tangkak health director Dr Rosila Yahya for comments.