We now have a new Deputy Prime Minister who just not too long ago posted on Facebook with a cryptic caption that he “has closed the front door but…”.
With his newly acquired powers as the Deputy Prime Minister, I urge Ismail Sabri to heed his own advice to stop politicking and focus on helping the people by fixing some of these basic discrepancies with the lockdown SOPs immediately:
(1) Open all stationery shops: The Perikatan Nasional government wants people to work from home and students to do online learning but ordered all stationery shops to shut. Books do not fall from the sky and papers do not fly on their own. This baffling SOP creates hardship for people who have to move from shop to shop just to photocopy, print or bind documents. There are students attending art lessons and all kinds of other lessons online. Where does the Government expect them to obtain the tools for effective learning? Parents need stationeries to help children survive this lockdown. Does the Government expect children to do nothing and just sit in front of the TV?
(2) Open all outdoor morning markets/‘pasar pagi’: The aim of a lockdown is to flatten the curve of daily Covid positive cases. The Government can only do this effectively if their SOP is based on science such as encouraging greater ventilation and less crowding. I wish to highlight the case of Pasar Pagi Taman Kok Doh in my parliamentary constituency which has many senior citizens relying on its services daily. The order to shut during the total lockdown has forced the senior citizens to travel to the next closest hypermarket in a neighbouring Parliamentary constituency resulting in additional travel expenses for them and also a less safe environment as it is an indoor market.
(3) Allow personal health, grooming and wellness services such as chiropractors, barbers, hair stylists or any licensed therapists to reopen based on previously issued SOPs and safety features. Malaysia has done this in various versions of lockdown since 2020 but I have been informed that chiropractors are not allowed to operate during this lockdown while physiotherapists can. Why would a physiotherapist be less likely to transmit the virus than a chiropractor?
For whatever reasons our Deputy Prime Minister was not able to fix the above-mentioned discrepancies when he was a Senior Minister in charge of MKN. I hope this new position would give him the authority and inspiration needed to get the related Ministries in line. I have only listed 3. There are many more. These are basic nonsensical SOPs that have affected the livelihood of thousands of working Malaysians, students and children. Malaysians can no longer afford to sit at home. Many have exhausted their savings and can no longer afford to pay rent or utility bills. Only a wicked government would sit back and do nothing when all it takes is one coordination meeting to be chaired by the newly minted Deputy Prime Minister to immediately provide relief to the people. Prove your worth Mr DPM otherwise this appointment is a mere political stunt.