Suspend HIDE until accurate data is made available, business groups say

Suspend HIDE until accurate data is made available, business groups say

SEVERAL business groups have urged the Government to suspend further information derived from the Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE), claiming it was unfair and misleading.

“Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that premises listed under HIDE will be required to close for three days for sanitisation.

“However, in view of the inaccurate information on the hotspot listing, we feel the closure is premature and will cause irreversible damage to perception and business recovery.

“This proposed closure should be held in abeyance until the data used in HIDE is confirmed for accuracy, with hotspot locations are correctly identified,” they said, in a joint statement.

The statement is signed by the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK), Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) and the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA).

Yesterday, Damansara MP Tony Pua called for the Government to suspend HIDE, claiming that its COVID-19 hotspot listing data is “deeply flawed”.

As most of the locations listed were shopping malls and supermarkets, Pua said HIDE’s inaccurate data could create unintended negative impact on businesses.

“The Government should have realised that something was amiss when most of the locations listed were major shopping malls and supermarkets. Pretty much every single mall was listed as a potential cluster, based on the data collected in the last seven days.

“This was despite the fact that historical data showing that shopping malls contributed to less than 5% of the COVID-19 clusters, as opposed to factories (48%) and construction sites (11.6%),” the DAP leader said.

The HIDE system was developed jointly by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Health Ministry (MOH). It is intended to be an early warning system to prevent rise in COVID-19 infections by using data from the MySejahtera application.

Our strict compliance backfired on us

Echoing Pua’s sentiments, the group said that shopping malls and other retail outlets only comprise of 4.78% of coronavirus cluster, adding the Government should be listing riskier hotspots to raise awareness to the public.

“It would be a complete irony and a huge peril if HIDE is unable to identify these places, simply due to the lack of such data.

“And this will inadvertently encourage the public to patronise such poorly regulated places, with the misguided belief that these places are safer,” they stated.

The business groups mentioned that they have taken their initiative to work closely with the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) and collaborated with private hospitals and doctors to administer vaccines to their employees.

They added that shopping malls and retail outlets comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) at all times, in addition to regular cleaning and sanitisation measures.  

“But our compliance and diligence, unfortunately, had backfired and we got penalised for it.

“Once again, we appeal to Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) to announce adequately qualified HIDE information so that the public have precise information to make informed judgement for their wellbeing.

“And we need stress on the need for consultation with industry stakeholders to arrive at practical and effective policies, to avoid misinformation and unwarranted negative impact to the industry,” they remarked. – May 11, 2021.