Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) must make clear what are their intended targets and even exit strategy after the decision to not adopt the nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) in favour of an enhanced CMCO, and what do they expect to achieve when this end on 17th May 2021.
While I am supportive of Sarawak having the ‘autonomy” to make decisions and craft required SOPs based on local context and needs, but decisions must be based on science and data rather than any political considerations.
That is why, it is also important for the public to know exactly what SDMC is trying to achieve in adopting such a strategy rather than a full MCO especially in areas where there is high infective rate, high numbers, and the healthcare system especially ICU beds are full.
I am concern with the recent statement by State Health Director Dr Chin Zin Hing that the usage of intensive care units (ICU) in government hospitals in Sarawak has reached a critical level following the surge of Covid-19 cases in the state. I was made aware that supplies of PPE in certain hospitals are also at a critical level.
Which means, if effective interventions are not done, our healthcare system especially in main outbreak areas may be overrun especially with the detection of the different variants here in Sarawak. With high cases and low vaccination rate in Sarawak, we also do not want to provide a conducive environment for the virus to mutate even more, making it more infective and harder to control.
That is why the government must be transparent in the reasoning for their strategy and expected outcomes to be accountable to the public.
What are the target number of cases, infective rate, hospital occupancy among others when this CMCO ends on 17th May? If it does not achieve its intended target, what are the government’s plans? Will there be a strict lockdown in outbreak areas for a short period of time to really serve as an effective “circuit-breaker”, then open again to allow business into some form of normalcy?
The main question people are asking is that such enhanced CMCO has already been implemented in Sibu and Bintulu since mid-April and it has been almost a month since the implementation of those set SOPs, yet the number of cases in both those areas doe not seem to be coming down as expected. So, are we trying to do the same thing but expecting different results?
While it is a tough decision to balance between health and economic considerations, but if we do not get the health side under control, the economy will continue to suffer.
Even so, the government must look at providing financial assistance towards industries that are severely affected by this enhanced SOP including the F&B hawkers. Businesses have dropped significantly for them and thus the government should look at extending financial assistance to help them through this tough time.
More importantly, the government must have a clear and comprehensive exit strategy for all businesses after this including how to help the economy stagger to normalcy while ensuring our community is safe and protected.
As we cannot keep on implementing MCO or strict CMCO all the time, the government must be better prepared in planning and communication on this exit strategy in order for a smooth transition towards a resumption of business operations post-MCO. There must be continued engagement between the relevant ministries with all stakeholders to sort out the necessary arrangements and even allowing the type of businesses to resume operations by phases as it allows the companies/industries to get ready and prepare the SOP.
This requires decisive, clear and scientific leadership from the government to give better assurance to the people in these difficult times. The government must learn from their mistakes, as businesses and public are suffering more from the flip-flops, inconsistencies, and last-minute announcements rather than the MCO/CMCO itself.
If it was thoughtfully planned, announced, and executed in first place, we won’t be in such a difficult position.
Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching