Weekly Highlights

Will the PM hold a joint press conference with key Cabinet Ministers to avoid previous SOP U-turns?

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 (pictured), 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.

Key Ministers including Minister of Defense, Ismail Sabri should be present

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 to convince the rakyat that this PN government is capable enough to get us out of this pandemic.

Dr.Ong Kian Ming,

MP for Bangi

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