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Monday, May 31, 2021

How the NSC can help those who cannot work from home

 


MP SPEAKS | The sectors which are considered as “essential” and allowed to operate during MCO 3.0’s Total Lockdown phase starting tomorrow, June 1, 2021, were released yesterday during Senior Minister Ismail Sabri’s press conference.

Here are three recommendations on how standard operating procedures (SOPs) can be improved for employers and employees who still must be present at their work premises during the total lockdown.

Firstly, all ministries that have the responsibility of approving companies’ application and continue to operate during the total lockdown must be allowed to continue to use the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (Miti’s) registration, processing and approval system called CIMS 3.0.

Ismail Sabri announced yesterday that Miti would only be in charge of processing applications from the manufacturing and manufacturing services sector and that other ministries would have to process applications for the industries under their purview.

For example, those in the agricultural sector will have to ask the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries for approval to operate. Those in the restaurant business will have to ask the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs for permission. Those in the construction sector will have to ask the Ministry of Works for permission. These are a few examples.

Rather than each ministry coming up with their own registration and processing system, I recommend that they continue to use the CIMS 3.0 system, including printing out the approval letters using the letterheads of their respective ministries. Approval to continue operations will come from the ministries in charge of their respective sectors. Miti merely plays a facilitation role - the role of an IT provided to these ministries.

This will make the application and approval process much faster, especially since Miti already has the information of almost all the companies which were operating during MCO 2.0 and MCO 1.0. It will also lessen the burden on the civil servants in the other ministries and do away with the need for each ministry to come up with its own registration system.

Secondly, the National Security Council should publish a list of the sectors that can continue to operate under MCO 3.0 and the ministries that are responsible for these sectors. For certain sectors, the ministry responsible is quite clear, for example, the transportation of goods and services comes under the Ministry of Transport.

For others, it may not be so clear-cut. For example, should optometrists get approval to operate from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs or from the Ministry of Health (MOH)? Can the Ministry of Domestic Trade come up with SOPs to ensure safe measures of operations for optometrists or must they rely on MoH?

Should hotels that are operating as quarantine centres ask for approval to operate from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Home Affairs? I am sure there are many other areas of jurisdictional uncertainty which I have not mentioned.

Thirdly, all of the ministers should meet to evaluate where are the possible gaps in the current SOPs that need to be addressed and updated immediately before the Total Lockdown starts tomorrow.

For example, institutes of higher learning are not allowed to operate during the Total Lockdown, except for online classes. But the maintenance and security staff for each campus still needs to work in order to protect and maintain the assets of these institutions.

Perhaps not all of these staff need to go to work. Perhaps only 10 percent of the workforce is required (similar to the 10 percent of “warm idle” staff for companies manufacturing steel, glass, ceramics, cement and automotive).

It is also not clear to me that non-quarantine hotels are allowed to operate during the total lockdown. Again, these hotels still need a skeleton crew of staff to maintain and upkeep the hotel premises.

There are many things that need to be improved with regard to these MCO-related announcements. But rather than complain about the obvious, I hope that we can give constructive feedback to the government and that the government would be willing to listen to constructive advice coming from the ranks of opposition MPs. - Mkini


ONG KIAN MING is MP for Bangi and DAP's assistant political education director. He can be reached at im.ok.man@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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