Stringent precautions crucial

Marichelle Livan Lah

KUCHING: Strict border control needs to be implemented to keep the spread of Covid-19 under control.

This is vital as allowing foreign workers to enter Sarawak could potentially put the lives of locals at risk or trigger another wave of infections.

In emphasising this, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) supreme council member Marichelle Livan Lah nonetheless said she understood that there was a high demand for foreign workers, particularly in the construction, agriculture, and plantation sectors.

“Although the state government has imposed stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed, we have to take into consideration the rebellious side of human nature that often refuses to comply with the authorities, rules, and regulations,” she told New Sarawak Tribune today.

She was commenting on the state government’s decision to allow foreign workers back into Sarawak from Mar 1, subject to strict SOPs, as announced by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on Wednesday.

“Implementation is the key word. Does Sarawak have enough enforcement officers to control the entry of foreign workers? For example, the non-compliance of one home quarantine order sparked the Pasai Cluster and eventually painted almost the whole of Sarawak red,” she said.

She pointed out that the constant mutation of the Covid-19 virus strains also needed to be counted.

“By opening our borders to people from all around the world, we risk introducing a new and possibly more deadly mutation into our midst,” she stressed.

She strongly urged employers who were planning to bring in foreign workers to consider employing local workers first, and only if they had already exhausted all other options should they resort to importing foreign workers, thus allowing them into the state during this pandemic.

At the same time, Marichelle believed that life must go on during the pandemic and that all economic sectors should be allowed to resume business as the people moved forward to restore the nation’s economy.

“I also strongly believe that necessary stringent precautions should still be practised to mitigate the already alarming Covid-19 situation in Sarawak,” she said.

She said Sarawakians had suffered tremendously from the pandemic due to the lack of social responsibility by a handful of irresponsible individuals who chose to violate the SOPs.

“Many schools remain closed due to the high number of cases and children are losing out on essential education. Our government must make wise and decisive decisions to protect the wellbeing of the people and the economy,” she said.