Provide assistance if shutdown enforced

Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok

KUCHING: The government must assist the public to restore and regenerate their livelihoods if they were to announce a total economic shutdown.

Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok stated that there is a huge gap between the manageable level of the movement control order (MCO) 1.0 and MCO 2.0.

“When the government announced a total lockdown including shutting down the economic activities back in MCO 1.0, we managed to curb Covid-19 cases.

“However, when MCO 2.0 was announced and five major economic sectors were allowed to operate, there are still no signs of cases decreasing.

“To shutdown economic activities during MCO 2.0, the government must take the consideration of Malaysians’ livelihood heavily.

“Aside from that, employers and employees must improve the implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in their living and working conditions as well as in helping to curb the transmission of Covid-19 infections,” he said when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune on Sunday (Jan 24).

Meanwhile, Sim also expressed his disappointment when the federal government announced that the wage subsidy programme (WSP) is only for areas under MCO and is for only a month.

“In my opinion, the government should reconsider the decision and give assistance to all sectors in all the states for three months or more.

“As more states are affected in MCO 2.0, there are possibilities that more economic sectors will be forced to shut down due to non-abatement of the Covid-19 infection rates.

“The wage subsidy will help businesses to sustain their employees. It will also help to lower the unemployment rate in our country,” he said.

Moreover, according to Sim, when loans are being repaid to the bank it is very difficult to apply for a new loan as most banks view this period in time as risky.

“By giving automatic moratorium, it can assist businesses and households to survive without any bank default and subsequent legal foreclosure and bankruptcy, which will have a negative impact on the banking system and overall economy.

“We can even say that even in this pandemic, banks can still make profit and for them to extend automatic moratorium will be no loss to them, but instead preserve their customers base and business relationship.

“Thus, I hope that the government would consider granting automatic moratorium for all bank loans for at least six months,” he said.