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MITI’s intervention in MCO Phase 3 has brought chaos

Press Statement
19 April 2020

As MCO Phase 3 began, Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) recently announced that logistics companies will have to apply for MITI’s approval, thus bringing about disruptions to the essential services sectors that have just returned to their normal operations. I would say MITI’s directive as an attention-seeking measure has created market chaos.    

I received complaints from many vegetable transporters yesterday morning that they were stopped by police at the Kulai Toll Plaza on NSE Highway. The police officers said that MITI’s approval was necessary and turned away the approval letters issued by Cameron Highlands’ district police chief and the Department of Agriculture. 

I was most perplexed after receiving such complaints. During MCO Phase 1 and 2, the government had clarified that logistics companies can deliver goods once approval letters are obtained from the Department of Agriculture and local district police headquarters. Why would another ministry intervene when we are now in the third phase of MCO? My doubts were finally answered when MITI issued an official statement on Facebook.

MITI’s official statement states that even though transportation of goods by land, sea, and air are listed as essential services during MCO, MITI’s latest approval obtained by logistics companies will assist police to verify whether their services are categorised as essential (https://www.facebook.com/MITIMalaysia/photos/a.131973643483891/3366737403340816/?type=3&theater

Local essential services providers have experienced a month long “unrest” and could finally return to their normal operations under strict monitoring. If MITI intends to allow more sectors to resume their operations gradually, coordination with various key ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, as well as Ministry of Health is necessary. MITI should not overturn everything and ask all sectors (particularly essential services providers) to reapply in order to resume operations. 

MITI’s attention-seeking intervention has created market chaos and brought about disruptions to essential service providers. It clearly reflects the lack of coordination between various ministries as different ministries issue their respective directives without due consideration. Businesses have been disrupted by many ambiguous guidelines and instructions to resume operations, as well as standards provided by different ministries that are inconsistent with one another. 

I urge Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to exempt companies with approval letters obtained in MCO Phase 1 or 2 from reapplying to MITI. This will help reduce unnecessary measures that bring about disruptions to people’s livelihood as well as negative impact to the economy.

Chiong Yoke Kong
ADUN for Tanah Rata, Pahang
DAPSY Deputy Chairman

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