LettersOPINION

Letter: Unleash the Power of the Private Sector 

By Datuk Tan Cheng Kiat, MICCI National President 

Flattening the Curve

With the daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths reaching new records, the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) stands with the government in flattening the curve as the medical facilities are almost at breaking point. 

The industry is firmly behind the government’s efforts in achieving herd immunity as fast as possible and in combatting the pandemic. 

Unleashing the Resource and Resolve of the Private Sector 

The reality is that COVID-19 and its ever mutating variants are already in the community and will be here for a long time. The country cannot continue to forever be drumming up SOPs and shoot-from-the-hip regulations week on week. Uncertainty kills businesses. 

The DNA of all enterprises is their perpetual survival and it is in their interest to overcome these threats. That is why it is the private sector that has the resolve to overcome this threat as soon as possible. 

MICCI is of the opinion that vaccinating the population to the level of herd immunity as early as possible will be the best option in returning to normalcy and maintaining the sustainability of businesses. 

We believe that the government must unleash the private sector to take the bull by the horns and assist in speeding up vaccinations.

MCO 1.0-style Full Lockdown is Not the Answer

Experience and lessons learnt from MCO 1.0 showed that even though the curve did flatten, the devastation to the economy was almost irreversible. Unclear ambiguous SOPs and arbitrary enforcement has taken a toll on businesses. Businesses do not have an on-off switch. The lack of consultation with the industry is the bane of all businesses. Cash handouts while businesses are not allowed to operate is unsustainable as there are no revenue streams from economic activities for these handouts. 

As such, MICCI does not believe that an MCO 1.0-style full lockdown is a viable option. Some tightening of the SOPs such as work from home rules can be implemented, but enforcement agencies must be properly briefed. 

MICCI believes that the government should not micro-manage businesses with too granular SOPs. MICCI advises that the government should adopt KISS – Keep It Simple SOPs. 

As an example, a simple SOP on 1.5m physical distancing at the workplace is sufficient, instead of specifying how many percent of staff is allowed to be present and who has to work from home. 

Conclusion 

An MCO1.0-style full lockdown is not a viable option. A fast vaccination programme is the long-term answer. 

Let there be transparency in the vaccination procurement and roll-out programme so that the private sector with its resources and resolve can help overcome the challenges to fast implementation of a vaccinated population. 

Let there be Private-Public joint effort to speed up the vaccination programme and do away with the uncertainty and the ever-changing SOPs. 

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