THE federal government has been urged to allow Malaysians to go back to work as soon as possible in order to cope with the economic impact from the Movement Control Order (MCO).
In a statement, Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, special investment adviser to the Chief Minister of Penang, said that the country has come to a virtual standstill following the MCO, adding that there is a high chance of the MCO period being extended due to the increasing number of new Covid-19 cases.
He urged the federal government to quickly work on an Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) protocol for the industries to adopt in order to re-energise the manufacturing sector as well as to put Malaysians back to work with proper protection.
He also said that the government, industries and employees should build trust among each other and form partnerships in order to make it possible.
"We need to look for a paradigm shift away from pitting health against the economy. Otherwise, we may have a bankrupt government, shuttered industries and unemployment awaiting us after this pandemic is over," he added.
As a country that relies on its manufacturing sector, which accounts for 85% of its exports, the MCO would negatively impact the nation in at least two aspects, said Lee.
"First, the country's economic well-being. Any prolonged lockdown in Malaysia will see our supply chain being replaced by countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore," he said.
He also said that the MCO would also heavily affect the citizen's well-being in terms of their employment.
"Although our national unemployment rate stands at just above three percent before the MCO, the latest projection shows that we might see a 15% (2.4 million) unemployment rate if we do not quickly put our workforce back to productive work again," he added. - April 5, 2020, Bernama