Huazong welcomes drafting of Covid-19 Temporary Measures Bill

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has called on the government to ensure that the proposed Covid-19 Temporary Measures Bill be implemented in a proper, just and fair manner, when it is ready for implementation.

Its president Tan Sri T.C Goh said this is important so as to prevent the said Bill from being abused by some interested parties, later.

He said this while welcoming the government’s latest effort to draft a Bill on the implementation of temporary measures to reduce the impact of Covid-19.

According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, the Bill will involve amendments in several existing Acts as part of efforts to rebuild the economy and assist the people after the pandemic.

The Cabinet agreed to the proposal during its meetings on April 29 and May 20.

Concurrently, all ministries are requested to identify the Acts that will need to be amended according to their respective ministries, and to present the findings during a special meeting on the drafting of the Bill, which he will chair on May 28, he added.

The Law Division in the Prime Minister’s Department will act as the coordinator of this drafting process.

In a statement issued today, Goh said Huazong was both glad and thankful that the government has always taken cognizance of its views and proposals, on measures to better assist the people and businesses to cope with the devastating economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO).

He continued that, with the government recently introduced the Conditional Movement Control Order (MCMO) to allow most of the economic sector and businesses to reopen, Huazong continued to gather feedback and issues raised by its member associations, the Chinese community and the business sector, in regards to the MCMO.

Huazong has thus compiled another set of proposals covering various sectors, for the government’s attention and consideration, as follows:

· Fighting Covid-19

1. Government to provide special reward to the frontliners, the reporters included, in recognition of their selfless contribution towards fighting Covid-19.

2. To ramp up testing and contact tracing efforts on the migrant workers, especially those who are without proper documents. This is crucial as, the migrant workers have been identified as the ‘high-risk group’ besides being the ‘hidden reservoir’ for Covid-19 transmission.

3. The government through the relevant authorities to review, improve and enhance the existing mechanism of Covid-19 test for the foreign workers, especially those in the construction sector. This was in view of the fact that as of end of last month, only 15,000 out of the estimated 2 million legal migrant workers have undergone Covid-19 test since the government made it a requirement for them to be tested before allowing them to resume work. At the present slow rate of testing, it may take another six months to complete the tests on all the migrant workers, and this may seriously hamper the government’s ongoing efforts to revive the economy.

4. The government should standardize the fee charged by private hospitals for the Covid-19 test, at a reasonable and affordable rate, so as to avoid confusion and dispute.

· Finance

5. The government to consider adding another RM5 billion to the RM5 billion Special Relief Fund (SRF) for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to allow more SME entrepreneurs to acquire the much needed financing. Since this financing scheme was rolled out, it has allowed some 20,000 businesses to obtain financing up to a maximum amount of RM1 million, at 3.5% annual interest rate.

6. The government to also consider further extending deadline for the application of the one-off RM3,000 financial assistance under the Geran Khas PRIHATIN (GKP) provided to qualified Micro-SME to reduce their financial burden. The deadline for its application has expired on 15 May. It was estimated that some 700,000 Micro-SME operators have benefitted from this scheme.

· Work force

7. The government to consider expanding the ‘Wage Subsidy Scheme’ to cover those businesses which are currently still unable to reopen, such as the tourism and entertainment industries.

· Education

8. The Ministry of Education (MOE) to work closely with the schools to ensure good compliance of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), including social distancing, when the schools are allowed to reopen. The ministry should also take into consideration of the potential issue of insufficient classrooms facing the Chinese primary schools and Chinese Independent schools, if they were to spread over the students in compliance with the social distancing requirement.

9. The schools should be allowed to split the classes into morning and afternoon sessions, if necessary. The same approach may also apply to the operations of school canteen, library, and the use of school auditorium.

10. The MOE must take cognizance of the issue of teachers potentially facing tremendous stress teaching under the new norm, especially if the school is already facing shortage of teachers.

11. The MOE should also liaise with the relevant authorities to ramp up the exiting internet coverage and speed, especially in the rural and suburban areas, which are obviously still lacking or lagging behind, in order to allow the schools and students to conduct online learning.

12. The MOE should also beef up necessary training for the teachers to better conduct online learning program, besides providing them with a standard online education module.

· Transport

13. The government to give special discount for the toll fees throughout the country, in order to lessen the financial burden of the people.

14. To give special rebate or waive the road tax for commercial vehicles, especially heavy vehicles like lorries and trucks, which are affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO). There should also be rebate for vehicle inspection by Puspakom.

15. Like the tour bus operators, school bus operators too should be given the one-time cash aid of RM600 to help ease their financial burden during this difficult time.

· Agriculture

16. Huazong fully support the government setting up of the inter-departments National Food Security Council to boost food productions in the country. This would help reduce import and boost export of food supply, boost foreign revenues, stabilize and bring down prices of food, and accelerate development in agriculture sector.

17. Huazong also proposes the government to revive the incentives scheme for vegetable and fruits farmers, which had been shelved for the past 10 years, in order to boost quantity and quality of food production. Currently, fishermen and padi farmers in the country are given incentives.-pr/BNN