Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 31st of May 2021

3 Recommendations to the National Security Council (NSC) to help employers and employees who cannot work from home during MCO 3.0 Total Lockdown starting on the 1st of June 2021.

The sectors which are considered as “essential” and allowed to operate during MCO 3.0’s Total Lockdown phase starting on the 1st of June 2021 were released yesterday during Senior Minister Ismail Sabri’s press conference. Here are three recommendations on how the SOPs can be improved for employers and employees who still must be present at their work premises during the total lockdown.

Firstly, all Ministries which have the responsibility of approving companies’ application to continue to operate during the total lockdown must be allowed to continue to use MITI’s registration, processing and approval system called CIMS 3.0. Ismail Sabri announced yesterday that MITI would only be in charge of processing applications from the Manufacturing and Manufacturing Services Sector and that other Ministries would have to process applications for the industries under their purview. For example, those in the agricultural sector will have to ask the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries for approval to operate. Those in the restaurant business will have to ask the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs for permission. Those in the construction sector will have to ask the Ministry of Works for permission. These are a few examples. Rather than each Ministry coming up with their own registration and processing system, I recommend that they continue to use the CIMS 3.0 system including printing out the approval letters using the letterheads of the respective Ministries. Approval to continue operations will come from the Ministries in charge of their respective sectors. MITI merely plays a facilitation role / the role of an IT provided to these Ministries.

This will make the application and approval process much faster especially since MITI already has the information of almost all the companies which were operating during MCO 2.0 and MCO 1.0. It will also lessen the burden on the civil servants in the other Ministries and do away with the need for each Ministry having to come up with their own registration system.

Secondly, the National Security Council should publish a list of the sectors that can continue to operate under MCO 3.0 and their Ministry which is responsible for these sectors. For certain sectors, the Ministry responsible is quite clear, for example, the transportation of goods and services comes under the Ministry of Transport. For others, it may not be so clear cut. For example, should optometrists get approval to operate from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs or from the Ministry of Health (MOH)? Can the Ministry of Domestic trade come up with SOPs to ensure safe measures of operations for optometrists or must they rely on MoH? Should hotels which are operating as quarantine centers ask for approval to operate from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Home Affairs? I am sure there are many other areas of jurisdictional uncertainty which I have not mentioned.

Thirdly, all of the Ministers should meet to evaluate where are the possible gaps in the current SOPs that need to be addressed and updated immediately before the Total Lockdown starts tomorrow. For example, institutes of higher learning are not allowed to operate during the Total Lockdown except for online classes. But the maintenance and security staff for each campus still needs to work in order to protect and maintain the assets of these institutions. Perhaps not all of these staff need to go to work. Perhaps only 10% of the work force is required (similar to the 10% of “warm idle” staff for companies manufacturing steel, glass, ceramics, cement and automotive). It is also not clear to me that non-quarantine hotels are allowed to operate during the total lockdown. Again, for these hotels, they still need a skeleton crew of staff to maintain and upkeep the hotel premises.

There are many things which need to be improved with regards to these MCO related announcements. But rather than complain about the obvious, I hope that we can give constructive feedback to the government and that the government would be willing to listen to constructive advice coming from the ranks of opposition MPs.

[1] https://notification.miti.gov.my/login