The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) should be more stringent especially respecting its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Covid-19. If SDMC cannot get this sorted out properly, then what confidence do we have that the Covid-19 situation can be properly contained especially with GPS rambling on a daily basis in the local newspapers that they intend to call for state elections soon. One ‘Halloween party’ has already caused so many problems, what more to say a state-wide state election?
One of the SOP is the quarantine measures put in place to help identify those who are at risk of exposure to Covid-19 and at the same time ensure that these people will not, in turn, be a risk to the public at large. Due to the seriousness of this pandemic, there cannot be any relaxation of rules for anyone.
Currently, people from other states can still enter Sarawak at this moment and not have to undergo quarantine on the condition that they leave within three (3) days. While it may be true that they will have to get clearance letters indicating that they are free from Covid-19, but past experience tells us that such a test is not reliable. We have heard many times how patients were initially tested to be Covid-19 negative but only to be found positive days later. This is also why the government conduct two swab tests on each suspected case; once on day 2 and another time on day 10.
Although initially announced to be only applicable to those in essential services i.e. Federal Ministers, I have been made to understand that there was a lax in enforcement which led to some members of the public giving the mandatory quarantine a miss despite not being from those categorized as essential services. Bear in mind that places like Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have more Covid-19 cases at this juncture. When the Sarawak State Government is lax in enforcing the SOP, are we not running the risk of exposing our fellow Sarawakians when we let people enter Sarawak without quarantine measures?
Similarly, we see a lack of enforcement within the locals. Till today, we have 36 people who have been infected with Covid-19 in the Green Hill cluster with the youngest being a 2-year-old baby!
The name Green Hill Cluster itself creates unwarranted fear among the public and affects all the business owners along Green Hill Road. The source of this cluster has nothing to do with Green Hill Road. It is said that most of the people within this cluster attended or were in contact with elites who attended a gathering. During this time, the SOP is clear regarding gatherings and physical distancing in a confined space. Why are the business owners being punished at the expense of the alleged attendees who are supposed to be the rich and powerful? We also ask why is there sudden secrecy over this infectious cluster as well?
I strongly urge the Sarawak State Government especially SDMC to revisit their SOP and also to reassess their enforcement work. When making statements and/or announcements, SDMC should also be more sensitive towards the possible repercussions and hardships which the people may face. Lastly, take stern actions to ensure strict compliance of such safeguards even against VIPs. Until the Sarawak State Government can properly manage the situation, all thoughts should be focused on fighting this Covid-19 pandemic and not a state election.
Michael Kong Feng Nian
Special Assistant to YB Chong Chieng Jen