Image source: Malay Mail
Media Statement by MP for Kluang Wong Shu Qi on 16th April 2020 (Thursday) in Kluang:
To win the war on Covid-19, the Perikatan Nasional Government must secure all necessary strategic medical resources and make no contradictory rulings on the provision of essential services.
It is shocking to learn that the stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may last for up to two weeks only, as revealed by Health Director General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah. At the same time, there are numerous efforts by Malaysians to produce PPE for our frontliners since the first week of Movement Control Order (MCO).
There are also those in the private sector that are willing to venture into medical supply industry, namely the production of face masks, PPE etc to help our nation in winning the war against Covid-19. However, I am very concerned that without the left and right hands of the government working together concertedly, we may just fail.
For instances, a T-shirt manufacturing factory which voluntarily assisted Hospital Kluang to make PPE gowns without profit was ordered to cease operation by the Labour Office.
Since the first week of MCO, Malaysians from all walks of life have been helping to source PPE for our frontliners, especially after seeing videos showing how they had to use plastic sheets or even garbage bags to protect themselves. Many raised funds to purchase supply from overseas to deliver to Malaysia. I have assisted two hospitals in Johor to secure PPE materials domestically with prices just a quarter of what it would cost if purchased via government procurement.
We all thought that the chaotic phase would pass relatively quickly and sufficient stock of PPE will reach our hospitals in every district. However, as we are now going into the third phase – the fifth week of MCO – we are still asked to assist on getting PPE to our frontline. Many hospitals in Johor are still lacking PPEs and now making these items themselves.
Ordinary Malaysians are trying to help because we cannot afford to risk our frontliners. However, a legitimate question on all our minds is whether the PN Government is trying its best and doing enough to source and get all the materials we need for the frontliners. We must not lose the war because we lose the bid of materials to other countries.
All the medical supplies, including its raw materials, are national strategic resources. There should be concerted effort among different ministries to ensure smooth production line, encourage more new ventures into the medical supply industry, and fast track approval for them to increase our national stockpile.
We all know that the war against COVID-19 will not end with the MCO. Medical supply is the most crucial resources we have to acquire. Private sector and ordinary people are already suffering economically under MCO, it is quite heart-breaking if we still need to squeeze money out from the people to donate to procure PPEs in support of our frontliners and hospitals. If the government is procuring in bulk, with transparency, integrity and free of corrupt elements, the prices should be much cheaper than relying on donation efforts from the public.
A concerted effort by the government to procure and secure all the supplies at the quickest possible time is crucial. It is time for government to act now.
Wong Shu Qi, Kluang Member of Parliament