KITA KINABALU: Small Medium Enterprise Association of Sabah (SME Sabah appreciates and fully support Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor’s decision to allow certain economic and non-contact social activities to resume operations during the extended Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) period from June 29.
Commenting on Senior Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s reminder to states to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) set by the National Security Council (NSC), its President Foo Ngee Kee opined there are valid reasons, such as low daily cases, then SOP for a particular State need not follow the SOP set by NSC. SOP are designed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus according to the number of daily cases.
He said by allowing more economic activities to resume will increase the risks of infection no doubt; but on the other hand, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) need to continue their business operations to earn valuable cash flows to pay wages (to support workers), loans and other expenses.
“The livelihoods of employers and employees are dependent on these cash flows,” he said in a statement today.
He said the decision by the Chief Ministeri to relax the SOP set by NSC for Sabah during the NRP extension period is a difficult decision for Hajiji, who needs to balance the safety of lives with livelihoods which is a delicate one.
“Fortunately, the total daily active cases in Sabah since the start of the Full Movement Control Order (FMCO) on June 1, 2021 are very well controlled.
“These 100 to 300 daily cases when spread over Sabah’s large land area of 73,904 sq km (56% of Peninsular Malaysia’s land area of 131,587 sq km) is very low and not highly concentrated.
“If just based on the daily cases of Sabah for June 2021, Sabah should be in Phase 4 of the NRP,” said Foo.
With Sabah’s borders protected through the 14 days quarantine requirements for Sabahan and non-Sabahans returning from Peninsular Malaysia, he said the current high daily cases in Peninsular Malaysia should not be a basis for Sabah to adopt the strict SOP set by NSC.
“With targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) imposed on seven localities within Sabah as at June 29 due to their high infectivity rate, it has proven to curb the infections from worsening and spreading out of control,” he said.
He said this dual strategy of tightening SOP by imposing EMCO in localities with high infectivity and relaxing SOP to allow certain economic activities to resume due to the low infectivity rate is the right way going forward to balance lives and livelihoods.
“Sabah SMEs have a 95% compliance of SOP over the past few weeks in June 2021 during the NRP period,” he said.
Finally, he said the State Government can still make the decision to further restrict any business activities like what has been done through the imposition of EMCO in 7 localities should the need arise later.
“Through well planned testing, early detection and quarantine of active cases, the spread of the Covid-19 virus infections will be well controlled.
“SME Sabah supports Hajiji’s decision to allow certain economic activities to resume to help save livelihoods of MSME without jeopardising lives,” he said.