KUCHING, May 9 — Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii today urged the federal government and National Security Council (NSC) to immediately explain the methodology and parameters used by the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) early warning system to identify premises and locations as potential Covid-19 hot-spots or clusters
He said the sudden order made by the NSC for all locations listed under HIDE to close immediately for three days has caught many business owners by surprise.
“Such last-minute announcement is not only a huge inconvenience to the public, but what is more important is that without proper explanation of the science and data behind such a decision, it is oppressive and irresponsible towards business owners affected especially when they are already struggling to stay afloat,” he said in a statement.
He said the conflicting announcements by different ministers on the same issue on the same day itself speaks volume of how the government has probably lost control or have no clue how to deal with this Covid-19 pandemic.
Yii noted that Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin earlier yesterday had clearly stated that the list of locations released under HIDE was not confirmed Covid-19 clusters and that such premises did not need to close except when directed by the authorities.
“Later in the evening, Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob came out with a late statement ordering all those listed under HIDE to be closed immediately contradicting the earlier statement made by Khairy,” he said.
“While I am supportive of pro-active measures and proper pre-emptive interventions, but the methodology and parameter of identification of such areas under HIDE must be clear and backed by science if not we may see unintended consequences including stigma towards a certain business area that can significantly affect their business, or worst as seen today business being ordered to close without proper explanation,” he added.
Yii said Ismail Sabri’s announcement on HIDE may actually open up dangerous floodgates if the methodology and parameters are not properly explained.
He said the list released under HIDE which shows the majority of shopping malls around the country also contradicts clear data that shows that a huge chunk of overall cases is a result of factories or workplace clusters (48.06 per cent), community spread (12.5 per cent) and construction (11.56per cent).
“Why are not these factories or high-risk workplace areas not appearing on this list?” Yii asked.
He said the government should not just look at closing down those areas under HIDE but it must be coupled with active case detection, adequate testing and quick isolation in those potential hotspots.
“That is why clear and specific parameters used to determine the list must be transparently made known to remove any perception of bias, unfairness or even oppression, is being removed.
“These are very important and must be transparent as it involves making decisions for hundreds of premises all over the country,” he said, adding that the government must also properly engage with all the necessary stakeholders and explain the mechanism and methodology to come up with a comprehensive way forward in order to prevent any unwarranted negative impact to any industry involved.
Yii said if given proper explanation and adequate planning and guidelines for businesses, they are more than willing to comply, and the public can also make the necessary adjustments.
He said if the government really believes this is the best mode of action, they would not be afraid to explain it properly to the public.
“However, if the government make sudden and rash decisions without proper explanation based on science and data, it just shows how they have lost it and an admission of failure to handle this pandemic,” he added.
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