BY SARAH HAFIZAH CHANDRA & MARGARET RINGGIT
KUCHING: The “Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat” (Permai) assistance package presented by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday (Jan 18) had three main objectives — combating the Covid-19 outbreak, safeguarding the welfare of the people and supporting the business continuity.
Among the things highlighted in the assistance package for the fight against Covid-19 were recruitment of 3,500 healthcare workers, an allocation of RM800 million for the Ministry of Health and RM3 billion for the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Deputy Chief Minister and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has thanked the federal government for the efforts to enhance the country’s healthcare system during this crucial time.
He also urged the federal government to give more allocations to Sarawak as the state still needed to upgrade its facilities and hospitals.
And in Miri, the general public has praised the RM2,500 special tax relief for purchasing mobiles phones, computers and tablets, considering the new normal that Malaysians are now enduring to rely heavy on technology.
Following are comments from the public.
SALLEH BAKI (retiree)
The federal government must be fair to all. Even though the Covid-19 cases in Sarawak are relatively low compared to other states, they must remember that we do not have enough medical facilities or manpower to accommodate patients if the number continues to increase.
RABIAH TAIBI (homemaker)
This pandemic has been difficult on everyone but there are groups of people who must be given priority such as small business owners, hawker stall operators and single mothers. I hope that the federal government will look into providing more assistance to Sarawak, especially the communities in rural areas and those whose livelihoods are gravely affected.
DIANA MARIE WEI (high school student)
It is important for the federal government to consider our appeal because we are part of Malaysia. While they must provide assistance to those who are unemployed or affected by the recent flood, immediate actions like allocating funds to critical healthcare providers such as hospitals in the centre of the pandemic and in the rural areas must be prioritised.
RAMEN SAROJA (university student)
We can see that the healthcare workers and frontliners in Sarawak are getting overwhelmed and exhausted from the increasing number of positive cases. I think it’s best for the federal government to make a strategic and practical decision on the deployment of healthcare workers throughout the nation. It must also provide assistance to those who are affected by the recent floods.
LOIS GWYN PETER (graduate teacher)
Sarawak is one of the states that are doing well in terms of handling this pandemic. However, we are also struggling to reduce the current surge in cases. I believe our state is in need of more supplies and facilities to tackle this crisis. The federal government should allocate funds that could perhaps be channelled to temporary hospitals in case the Covid-19 situation in the state worsens.
IAN ANCHIH KENNEDY (university student)
I think the federal government should consider upgrading the hospitals in Sarawak, especially those in rural areas which lack modern facilities and manpower. We will be able to deal with the virus and treat the patients better when there are enough facilities and more manpower like doctors and specialists.
SHAMBERI ELI (civil servant)
It will certainly benefit those who are eligible to purchase handphones or computers. The tax relief will help to ease tax payers’ burden.
SAWING BAJING (GLC staff)
Thumbs up for the initiative but not many people can afford to buy laptops, handphones or computers at this point of time. Many people are jobless, some experience salary deductions and no extra allowances. Some will make use of the money from i-sinar to buy these things. To me, that is misuse of i-sinar.
A good move to assist all Malaysians, especially parents during the Covid-19 pandemic when students have to study from home. The tax relief will help online businessmen.
ALING LIONG (private worker)
The tax relief will benefit those who earn more than RM4,000. Actually, I was expecting more from the Permai aid package announced on Monday.