Current Affairs, National

Putrajaya should decentralise power to states when it fails at SOPs and handling business operation applications

Joint Press Statement
3rd June 2021

Essential Service providers in Sabah operating under fear of enforcement, can Sabah MKN guarantee that federal enforcement personnel in all parts of Sabah, especially the police, shall follow Sabah SOPs and disregard federal directive?

A news report reporting that a furniture factory in Balakong, Selangor had been ordered to shut down and threatened by enforcement officers with a compound of RM50,000.00 had sent shivers down the spine of furniture manufacturers in Sabah.

According to federal Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, the manufacture of furniture is not considered as an essential service as it is not expressly listed in the federal SOP. However, in Sabah, furniture manufacturing has been expressly listed as being an essential service by the SOP released by the National Security Council (MKN) of Sabah:

As recent as last night, MKN Sabah had issued an updated SOP allowing, among others, electrical and electronic shops, bookstore and stationery shops, car dealers and even car wash to operate under strict compliance of conditions in the SOP.

There is potentially a huge problem with such SOP issued by MKN Sabah, namely that not all of such allowances are accorded nationwide in other parts of Malaysia. As far as I know, bookstores as well as car washes are not allowed to operate in Peninsula Malaysia, on top of furniture manufacturing factories mentioned above.

In cases where the shops are subjected to MITI CIMS system approval, these businesses would certainly face problems in obtaining CIMS approval due to the clash and inconsistency between state SOP with federal SOP, despite both being issued by MKN.

In such a case, the state SOP would be inhibited and rendered useless as it is more than certain that federal civil servants will be bound by federal directives. No federal civil servants will approve any such applications in the CIMS 3.0 system, unlike CIMS 2.0 where generating of approval letter is automatic upon giving of an undertaking. Furthermore, even if obtaining MITI CIMS approval is possible, actually getting the approval letter would be like striking a lottery as the online system is so ridiculously inefficient and slow-moving that applicants face so many error messages just trying to log into the system.

On the other hand, there seem to be an infographic from the Sabah Covid-19 Disaster Management Committee that essential service providers and their employees in Sabah need not obtain MITI letter from the CIMS system to operate or to cross district.

The question is then will the police and MKN enforcement personnel manning roadblocks, all of whom whose salaries are paid by the federal government, will comply with such “no MITI letter” directive and not issue any compound if faced with someone claiming to provide essential service? Will their trading licence, or in the case of an employee, a letter from their employer, be sufficient to prove so?

There is no guarantee that these federal enforcement officers will comply with directives from the Sabah Government and Sabah MKN due to their chain of command. At the end of the day, it is the people who will end up as victims of such enforcement. Can the Sabah MKN give such guarantee or assurance to the people of Sabah?

Decentralize powers to draft SOP and approve business operations to state governments and/or local authorities

Our stand in DAP Sabah has been consistent since day one, that State directives should override federal directive. Our stand has been consistent even since MCO 1.0 last year when former Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had issued some SOPs which clashes with federal SOPs, such as operating hours of businesses, etc. Then, we had already said that the Sabah government and/or the local authorities would be in a better position to decide SOPs for the people based on the actual situation being nearer to the ground as opposed to the federal government high up in its ivory tower in Putrajaya.

It is not as if Malaysian businesses are not willing to follow SOPs and apply for the relevant operating approval where necessary, but not only the guidelines are confusing and inconsistent, the CIMS system does not seem to have the capacity to handle the amount of applications for operation. The penalty for non-compliance also seem to be overly harsh at maximum of RM50,000.00, and that appeal avenues seems to be either non-existence or are done arbitrarily.

As such, we hereby urge the federal government and the federal MKN to immediately decentralise its emergency powers to issue SOPs and powers to issue approval (or rejection) to operate for businesses down to the local authorities and local councils who are in charge of issuing business licences in the first place, especially for Sabah and Sarawak.

Not only the burden on MKN and MITI would be lessened, decisions whether to reject applications to operate could also be made more speedily without choking up the MITI CIMS system.

We also urge the federal government to instruct its enforcement officers, especially the police, to comply with such SOPs issued by the respective state governments and/or local authorities.

The people had seen enough of the rhetorics by the federal government, no point centralizing power at the federal government if you can’t even manage such a simple matter. Even though the country is under an emergency, the federal government has to come down to the ground and see for themselves how the people are struggling with such a bad system and numerous u-turn on policies. These people are not shouting and chanting ‘kerajaan gagal’ at Perikatan Nasional for no good reason.

The people should not be put to limbo whether they are allowed to operate their respective businesses or not and SOPs have to be clear and precise. This PN federal government has to buck up, failing which the people will be left with no confidence in it. Decentralization of power is not a sign of weakness, and this PN government ought to take such suggestion seriously.

Frankie Poon Ming Fung
DAP Sabah Acting Chairman
ADUN for Tanjong Papat

Noorita Sual
DAP Sabah Vice Chairman
MP for Tenom

Chan Foong Hin
DAP Sabah Secretary
MP for Kota Kinabalu

Jannie Lasimbang
DAP Sabah Wanita Chief
ADUN for Kapayan

Phoong Jin Zhe
DAPSY Sabah Chief
ADUN for Luyang

Adrian Lasimbang
DAP Sabah Political Education Director

Tan Lee Fatt
DAP Sabah Assistant Secretary
ADUN for Likas

Vivian Wong Shir Yee
DAPSY Sabah Vice Chief
MP for Sandakan

Calvin Chong Ket Kiun
ADUN for Elopura

Justin Wong Yung Bin
ADUN for Sri Tanjong

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