KUALA LUMPUR – The enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in five states and three federal territories for 14 days beginning January 13 as announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been the talk of the town even prior to the announcement.
Following the decision by the government, the public has raised its concerns over how the two-week MCO in Penang, Selangor, the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Labuan, as well as Melaka, Johor, and Sabah would affect those in business, especially small entrepreneurs.
Experts, however, believe the implementation, which is aimed at flattening the COVID-19 curve, is crucial for the health and economy sectors, reported Bernama.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Assoc Prof Dr Kulanthayan KC Mani said that with the current healthcare system at breaking point to cope with the large number of patients, the MCO is undoubtedly needed.
“We all know that the MCO would affect the economic sector gravely, but health is more important and thus takes precedence. Once we are able to bring COVID-19 infections within our control and management, then the focus will be the economic sectors again.
“Nevertheless, it is vital to balance both the needs of health and economy. We need both to survive. We hope the MCO period will not be long and this can only be achieved with strict discipline among the population to adhere to the standard operating procedures. In this way, we can quickly flatten the curve and our economy can ease up soon,” he said to Bernama.
In the meantime, Dr Kulanthayan, who is also UPM Safe Kids Malaysia executive director, highlighted that the government needs to help B40 (lower income) group but also not forget the M40 (lower middle income) group, who will also be badly impacted by the MCO.
“For instance, the government can provide aid in terms of rentals, wage subsidies, and utility bills such as electricity and water bills, interest free loans, tax reliefs, and deferments of payments,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Emeritus Dr Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak said due to the MCO, government must introduce drastic initiatives to assist small businesses and help people start businesses from home.
“At the same time, we expect that micro businesses would be badly affected too. Thus, these groups, affected households and micro enterprises must be helped. This is the time for government to create a budget to help affected households to start businesses from home.
“[The] government needs to help them not just in terms of [cash] handouts, but assistance to make sure they can stay alive in business. This is where the government needs to put in extra efforts,” said the economist.
Dr Barjoyai also said that with the emergency proclaimed by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, which will be enforced up to August 1, Malaysia’s economy is now dependent internally.
Therefore, he concluded that there is opportunity in developing the local market as he expects no new businesses initiated by foreigners in this country during the emergency period.