Saturday, January 23, 2021

Saving Jobs in MCO 2.0: 6 Months Automatic Loan Moratorium and Wage Subsidy similar to that given in MCO 1.0


Saving Jobs in MCO 2.0: 6 Months Automatic Loan Moratorium and Wage Subsidy similar to that given in MCO 1.0

1.         Even though the MCO 2.0 has just been extended, Malaysians have yet to see a decrease in the number of Covid cases. Investors’ confidence, both domestic and foreign hitting rock bottom and the stimulus package Perlindungan Ekonomi & Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) announced by the Prime Minister on 18 January 2021 is like a drop in the bucket in cushioning the impact of MCO 2.0 and the Emergency. 


2.         Unemployment is soaring. If there are no other aggressive measures, more SMEs will go under, leading to more job losses. To prevent this from taking a nosedive, we urge the government to urgently:


(a) impose automatic loan moratorium for 6 months for all similar to that introduced during MCO 1.0. This can remove anxiety and bureaucracy almost immediately. SMEs/individuals which are not affected can continue with their existing loan repayment. 6 months automatic loan moratorium will improve cash flow in the economy hence creating economic activities. Individuals and SMEs will have more cash at their disposal, which in turn will help to improve the bottom line for all businesses, encouraging them to keep and maybe increase employment (instead of cutting jobs) as they work through this pandemic. 


(b) to increase the PERKESO wage subsidy of RM600 per worker to a higher amount (for those earning below RM4000) and to extend it for at least 6 months. The current RM600 subsidy for one month only is insufficient as the aftermath of MCO 2.0 and the Emergency are still in the process of unveiling itself for some sectors. 6 months wage subsidy will greatly encourage employers not to resort to cutting jobs and help carry them through half of this year as they face reduced sales and cash flow. For some, it may also encourage them to start recruitment again. 


3.         This is an extraordinary time. The government should take extraordinary measures to save jobs. The full consequences of rising unemployment may hurt the nation in ways no future stimulus package can aid. The Perikatan Nasional government has already lost out to our ASEAN neighbours in their competitiveness to attract foreign investors because of sheer incompetence, inefficiency and political instability. Further denial and stubbornness to do more for the business sector is one more nail in the coffin for our bleeding economy.


1. Darell Leiking (MP Penampang)

2. Syed Saddiq (MP Muar)

3. Mohd Azis Jamman (MP Sepanggar)

4. Hannah Yeoh (MP Segambut)

5. Yeo Bee Yin (MP Bakri)

6. Baru Bian (MP Selangau)

7. Datuk Rozman Bin Isli (MP Labuan)

8. Salahuddin Ayub (MP Pulai)

9. Amiruddin Hamzah (MP Kubang Pasu)

10. Teo Nie Ching (MP Kulai)

11. Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP Kota Belud)

12. Mahfuz Omar (MP Pokok Sena)

13. Khalid Samad (MP Shah Alam)

14. Tengku Zulpuri Shah Bin Raja Puji (MP Raub)

15. Maria Chin (MP Petaling Jaya)

16. Wong Shu Qi (MP Kluang)

17. Teresa Kok (MP Seputeh)

18. Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (MP Kuala Selangor)

19. Dr Lee Boon Chye (MP Gopeng)

20. Kasthuriraani Patto (MP Batu Kawan)

21. P. Prabakaran (MP Batu)

22. M. Kulasegaran (MP Ipoh Barat)

23. Chong Chieng Jen (MP Stampin)

24. Nor Azrina Surip @ Nurin Aina (MP Merbok) 

25. Sivarasa Rasiah (MP Sungai Buloh)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Use Science & Best Practices to Battle Covid-19

Malaysia sees yet another Covid-19 positive record-breaking yesterday at 3,027 cases. The government seems to have lost control of the pandemic outbreak with our health system at the brink of collapse and front-liners have reportedly burnt-out. Ironically, just the night before, the ruling parties – UMNO and PPBM, have had their central committee meeting, discussing not about the pandemic but their political survival! There must be moratorium of politicking at this time of national tragedy.

We strongly believe that the government must heed the call of many medical experts to embark on mass testing exercise, starting with screening all high-risk areas such as foreign workers living quarters, prisons and the community living near to them. According to the parliamentary reply, the government facilities can do PCR tests of close to 19,489 tests per day (16,670 tests under Ministry of Health and 2,819 tests under Ministry of Defence) while the private sector can do 59,485 tests per day - that is a national total testing capacity of close to 80,000 PCR test a day. But if we dispute over the exorbitant cost of doing this screening, please resort to the inexpensive and faster turn-around time RTK Antigen tests, which arguably is more appropriate for the purpose of mass screening. Be that as it may, we are undoubtedly capable and have the capacity, to do mass testing for targeted areas.

Since many positive cases are asymptomatic (~80%), mass testing becomes very important to enable early isolation to take place and prevent further spreading and 'spillovers' into the community. Using a combination of epidemiological data and AI, a risk-ranking algorthms are achieved of community particularly those associated to big clusters. For example, Selcare, a Selangor government GLC, has been running a series of community testing in areas close to factories in Klang that are experiencing outbreak. 

For example, in Taman Bayu Perdana, two community testings have been organized: the first one on 23 December 2020 - out of the 915 tested, 63 are positive (60 locals and 3 foreigners) and the second one on 3 January – from the 75% sample analyzed so far, out of 1,021 samples, 45 are positive (33 locals and 12 foreigners). This represents 4.4% Positivity Rate. Remember, WHO recommends a Positivity Rate of <5% as a threshold of controlled community spread. Admitttedly, of the 8 mass community screening done, there were others ranging from ~ 7% to 25%.

Indeed, as we do more testings, the number of positive cases will increase temporarily. But this is no time to hide our head in the sand.  We must face it head on, find all the positive cases in the community then isolate them! The government must invest in doing mass testing because the human and economic cost that we have to pay later, are hugely in excess of the cost of doing mass testing.

In addition, we believe that there is a need for complete overhaul of the contact tracing system. It was reported that MySejathera has only directly detected 4% of total reported Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, indicating that the government may still primarily rely on manual contact tracing, i.e asking the positive patients who their close contacts are and test accordingly. It also shows that the government has not fully (or at all) leverage on big data analytics using the data collected through MySejahtera and combine it with other data available in government system as well as public data that can be mined, such as posts with meta-data and tags used on social media etc, and develop a more sophisticated way of tracing the positive cases in the community. 

We must keep on innovating and not sit complacently on our early successes and laurels. We've long overtaken China, the global epicentre, with 125,000 cases with over 515 deaths! We must act pre-emptively and proactively, to safeguard and defend our green zones and mitigate further cases and eventually deaths, through preventing outbreaks on ignition sites in factories, work places and construction sites settings, especially in urbanised Selangor, Penang  and Johor.

With that, we call upon for wider deployment of science and best practices of public health interventions, with excellent understandings in government response for a 'whole of government' and a 'whole of society' approach in managing the worsening 3rd-Wave crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (MP Kuala Selangor, Former Minister of Health)

Dr Lee Boon Chye (MP Gopeng, Former Deputy Minister of Health)

Yeo Bee Yin (MP Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change). 

Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change) 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Joint statement by 14 Opposition MPs dated 5 January 2021


Malaysia recorded a total number of 1741 new Covid-19 positive cases yesterday bringing the total number of infection to 120,818 cases. Some states are hit by severe floods and more than 15,000 Malaysians have been displaced. Current unemployment or reduced income for many families in this time of pandemic remains unsettling. With these in mind, we are appalled by the continuous demand by UMNO to hold snap polls in such a climate. 


Just last month, Parliament passed a budget of RM322.5 billion, the largest budget in the history of this nation purportedly to fight Covid-19. 


Barely 3 weeks after this supposedly people-friendly budget was passed, UMNO now wants to use fresh elections as a trump card to grab more power at the expense of Malaysians' wellbeing and health safety. They have bared their true colours for all to see. 


We are reminded of this - Najib Razak once urged UMNO members to defend Putrajaya at all costs. “Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya”. Malaysians must reject such wicked and selfish ambition for power. We have lost enough from years of misgovernance and corruption. 


This nation needs to heal and the time to heal is now. 


1. Darell Leiking (MP for Penampang, Former Minister of International Trade and Industry)

2. Syed Saddiq (MP for Muar, Former Minister of Youth and Sports)

3. Mohd Azis Jamman (MP for Sepanggar, Former Deputy Home Minister)

4. Hannah Yeoh (MP for Segambut, Former Deputy Minister of Women, Family & Community Development)

5. Yeo Bee Yin (MP for Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

6. Baru Bian (MP for Selangau, Former Minister of Works)

7. Sivarasa Rasiah (MP for Sungai Buloh, Former Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development)

8. Salahuddin Ayub (MP for Pulai, Former Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry)

9. Amiruddin Hamzah (MP for Kubang Pasu, Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

10. Teo Nie Ching (MP for Kulai, Former Deputy Minister of Education) 

11. Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP for Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

12. Marzuki bin Haji Yahya (Senator, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs)

13. Mahfuz Omar (MP for Pokok Sena, Former Deputy Minister of Human Resources)

14. Khalid Samad (MP for Shah Alam, Former Minister of Federal Territories)