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

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 24th of May, 2021

Don’t blame the people if the government policies are seen as “STUPID

In his public address yesterday on television and through social media, the Prime Minister said that it was okay for the public to scold “Stupid Prime Minister”. I’m not sure if the PM was trying to score sympathy points with the public but I don’t think this is an appropriate public response to the increasing number of COVID19 positive cases in Malaysia.

Please don’t blame the public for being frustrated if the policies or Standard Operating Procedures announced by certain Ministers are seen as “stupid”. For example, in the latest tightening of the Movement Control Order (MCO) 3.0, the  following three policies do not make sense to me and probably to the larger public as well.

Firstly, the restriction on businesses including eateries to operate only until 8pm at night. This will have the effect of making people crowd at the restaurants and mamak stores which are doing take away close to the closing time of 8pm. At the same time, it will also endanger the food deliverers on motorcycles (Food Panda and Grab Food, just to name two of the more popular food delivery options) as they rush to fulfil the final orders nearing 8pm. Why not extend the operating hours of restaurants for the take out option until 10pm so that such a rush does not occur just before 8pm? Pardon my language, this is a really STUPID policy or SOP.

Secondly, reducing the capacity of public transportation by 50% will increase the crowding effect of those taking public transport. This will INCREASE the probability of COVID19 spread especially in physical distancing is not possible in crowded public transportation options such as the LRT, MRT and buses, especially in the Klang Valley.

Thirdly, reducing the civil service capacity to just 20% will likely increase the queues and waiting for lines for those who have no choice but to go to government offices to process documents, pay fees and other government related transactions, especially if they don’t have the capacity to do all of these things online!


Call for Joint PC by key cabinet Ministers to address questions on “lockdown”

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 20th of May, 2021

Call on the Prime Minister and key Cabinet Ministers to make a JOINT press conference and answer all questions from journalists if a more severe or total lockdown were to be implemented in the Klang Valley or in Malaysia

There has been increasing speculation that a “lockdown”, either in the Klang Valley or the entire Peninsular Malaysia, may take place very soon especially since the number of new cases exceeded 6000 yesterday.

I support what was said yesterday by Dr. Dzulkefly, the head of the Selangor Taskforce on COVID19 (SFTC) and later re-emphasized by the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Amirudin Shahri, that a lockdown would be acceptable but it must come with other conditions such as financial assistance to help the most affected groups including the B40, clear announcements and implementation of SOPs, sufficient facilities and equipment for learning at home and a clear strategy for mass testing and beyond (Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support or FTTIS), just to name a few.

I also want to urge the Prime Minister to hold a press conference if and when a stricter lockdown were to be announced where journalists are allowed to ask questions either in person or virtually. At this press conference, the following Ministers MUST be present together with the Prime Minister to answer detailed questions with regard to the lockdowns – the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the ‘de facto’ Minister of Health which is the Director General of Health, the Minister of Defence who is the ‘de facto’ head of the National Security Council (NSC), the Minister of Human Resources, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, the Home Minister and the Coordinating Minister in charge of the vaccination procurement and rollout. Journalists must be allowed to ask as many questions as they want to these Ministers and the Ministers must present clear and concrete answers to these questions.

They must be able to answer questions in the following areas:
(i) What is the plan for mass testing and tracing during such a lockdown? How are we going to isolate and support those individuals who have tested positive during these mass tests and trace programs?
(ii) What is the timeline for approval by the relevant authority (NPRA in this case) for vaccines such as Sputnik (from Russia) and Cansino? What is the documentation which is still needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these vaccines?
(iii) What is the plan to control the outbreaks at factories which form something like half of the existing clusters? What type of accommodation arrangements need to be changed especially among the foreign workers some of whom are living within the factory area?
(iv) What are the plans to prevent further outbreaks in the prisons and detention centers in Malaysia? Are there plans to give prisoners and prison officials vaccines in the near future?
(v) How can financial assistance be targeted to those who will be most affected by a more severe lockdown such as the SMEs, the retail sector and also the tourism sector? Will wage subsidies be offered to the companies in these sectors?

Let’s avoid the previous situation of one-man-show Press Conferences which then have to be followed up by U-Turns because one Minister wasn’t communicating with another. Let’s have a joint press conference by the key Ministers in cabinet convince the rakyat that this PN government is capable enough to get us out of this pandemic.