KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Putrajaya’s decision today to refrain from a total lockdown on social movement this MCO 3.0 will have some Malaysians shaking their heads in dismay, especially as public health facilities are reporting strains to their capacity, including inside intensive care wards.
Faced with public scepticism, Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob explained that the government decision was not made easily as it has to weigh the health interests of Malaysians against that of their economic welfare as well.
“The government has long given their justifications for this where we try to balance the interest of health and the interest of the people to survive.
“As we all know, when MCO1.0 was done, the government lost RM2.4 billion a day and small traders who earn their wages day-to-day did not have any income whatsoever.
“There are even stories of families eating rice with salt water just to survive. This is real, especially among the poor and the B40s, so the government has to take this into consideration.
“Some even say that we should not allow major companies to operate at this time. But if we do that, then these companies might be closed for good. You have to understand, if that happens, the implications are not just on the business owner but on their employees too,” he said in a joint news conference with the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah this evening.
“When MCO1.0 happened some 800,000 people had lost their jobs, no income. How would the people survive if that is the case?” he added, referring to the initial lockdown in March 2020.
Ismail explained that a total lockdown this time around would not be prudent and was not the way forward to deal with the soaring infection rates that will have a crippling effect on the economy in the longer term.
“When cases go down after a total lockdown, we will relax the SOP again as what had happened in MCO1.0,” he said.
He promised that when Covid-19 infections are manageable again, the government will phase back into the more relaxed stages of movement, ie the Conditional Movement Control Order and Movement Control Order.
“But if there is no self-discipline, cases might go up and we have to close again, we have to do a total lockdown again, when cases go down, we relax the restrictions and when cases go up, we close again.
“So open, close, open, close will continue,’’ he said, adding that it is everyone’s responsibility and not just the government to ensure that the preventative measures and policies to contain Covid-19 is a success.
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