Allow all businesses to operate longer hours

Johnathan Chai

KUCHING: Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) secretary-general Jonathan Chai Voon Tok has appealed for longer operating hours for all businesses. 

He made the suggestion in view of the dip in the number of positive Covid-19 cases in Sarawak and the government’s vaccination rollout in recent weeks.

Chai pointed out that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) should consider permitting all businesses to resume longer operating hours under the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs) provided all their employees had been vaccinated.  

He was responding to a recent comment by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing on the operating hours of businesses.

Masing said the operating hours did not contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

The way the standard operating procedures (SOPs) was being followed was to blame for the rise in cases.

 Chai said he also agreed with Masing’s remark that extending the working hours of banks and companies would alleviate the burden of the public, particularly rural folk, who were not familiar with online services.

Chai added that any prolonged movement control order (MCO) would affect the recovery of the state’s fragile economy.

“Consequently, the closure of more businesses and massive unemployment can be expected unless more aid measures and alternatives are provided by the government.

“I think the public and all business community deserve to be informed of the Sarawak recovery plan during the MCO so that we would know what to expect, especially the prerequisites for moving into subsequent recovery phases.

“Perhaps, we should emulate Singapore and the United Kingdom by starting to look at the “live with Covid-19 plans,” he said.

The Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA) president Datuk Richard Wee also agreed that all businesses should be allowed to resume longer operating hours provided that their employees had been fully vaccinated.

“The operating hours should be extended as many businesses are trying their best to sustain during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given how quickly and effectively our vaccination process is here in Sarawak, the government should take this recommendation into account and further act on it.  

“Many food operators have complained that because of the limited operating hours, they are unable to generate a fair profit to keep their business afloat,” he said.