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 2nd of October 2021

Update Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) which don’t make sense to help the economy recover faster

As more and more economic activities are allowed in the various Phases of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), there are still many SOPs in place which do not make sense and hamper the process of economic recovery. The Quad of Ministers in charge of SOPs comprising Anuar Musa, Hishammuddin Hussein, Tengku Zafrul and Khairy Jamaluddin should make a more concerted effort to update these SOPs in the affected sectors so that the economy can recover faster.

One sector which has suffered significantly due to the lockdowns are the cinemas. This is an RM1.5 billion industry that employs more than 20,000 people.[1] 40% of its revenues are from Food & Beveridge (F&B) sales at the counter but SOPs for Phase 2, 3 and 4 ALL state that F&B at the cinemas can only be ordered online while ordering the cinema tickets! (See Appendix 1 below) This makes NO SENSE since especially since DINING-IN is allowed. It is hard to see how ordering popcorn and mineral water by queuing up with proper physical distancing for a few minutes is more dangerous than dining in and eating in groups without facemasks for far longer time periods!

Another SOP to do with cinemas that do not make sense is that children below the age of 17 are not allowed in cinemas in Phase 2 and Phase 3 states. Since the process of vaccinating teenagers has already begun, why not allow fully vaccinated teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 into the cinemas?

Finally, the rule that people are only allowed to sit in pairs in cinemas if they are from the same household or live in the same address also does not make sense[2]. Sitting side by side in a cinema wearing face masks and not facing each other seems much safer than eating at a table at a restaurant facing each other and eating and talking without facemasks.

These are just some of the SOPs which do not make sense which affects just ONE industry. These SOPs which were prepared on the 10th of September 2021 have not been updated today (as of the 2nd of October 2021). I am sure that there are other SOPs which do not make sense which negatively affects other industries. I urge the relevant associations and representatives for these industries to reach out directly to me via email ([email protected]) to let me know of other SOPs which do not make sense so that they can be publicly highlighted and brought to the attention of the QUAD of Ministers in charge of SOPs.

[2] Only applies to Phase 2 and Phase 3 states.