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10 APRIL 2024

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Anifah, Yong back Hajiji over Sabah SOP issue


Former foreign minister Anifah Aman and SAPP president Yong Teck Lee are against ‘one-size-fits-all’ SOPs for the whole country.

KOTA KINABALU: Former foreign minister Anifah Aman wants the federal government to respect the Sabah government’s decision to relax SOPs in the state.

The former Umno strongman said the state government was capable of addressing the situation in Sabah, especially when it comes to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I fully support the decision made by the state government and chief minister Hajiji Noor,” he said in a statement today.

“Decisions pertaining to the wellbeing of the people of Sabah should not be made by desk bureaucrats from afar, and who do not fully comprehend the situation in the state.”

Earlier today, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) leaders, including deputy chief ministers Bung Moktar Radin and Jeffrey Kitingan, rallied behind Hajiji over the issue.

This came after a reminder from Putrajaya that all states must heed the SOPs set by the National Security Council (MKN) to curb the spread of Covid-19, which, among others, does not allow dining-in at restaurants.

Hajiji had on Monday announced that several social and economic activities would be allowed, including dining-in at restaurants, eateries and hotels, while hair salons, and stalls selling vegetables, fish and fruits by the roadside could reopen.

However, senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday that all states had to abide by the regulations fixed by the MKN while the country was under the current lockdown.

He said there must be standardised procedures for the entire nation and states should not make up their own rules.

Following that, Sabah local government and housing minister Masidi Manjun said the state had submitted a new set of SOPs for phase one of the movement control order (MCO) under the National Recovery Plan to the federal government.

He said the state government was still waiting for the SOPs to be gazetted.

In his statement today, Anifah said it was unfair for Sabah, which only had 242 cases today, to be treated equally with Selangor, which recorded 2,836 cases.

“As long as the necessary SOPs are in place and the authorities can ensure maximum compliance with the regulations, the relaxation of SOPs for several sectors is the rational thing to do.

“While we respect the decision and jurisdiction of the federal government in this matter, the decision to loosen the SOPs was made in consensus by all components of the Sabah ruling government,” he said.

Anifah added that the decision was also made by the state Covid-19 Disaster Management Committee, which also included representatives from federal agencies.

“While we understand the federal government, especially the MKN, feels obliged to maintain control of this pandemic, we need to also realise that the economy is also the source of livelihood for our people.

“What is the point of saving lives from the pandemic but we end up losing more through suicides, due to depression and the economic toll caused by the continuous lockdown measures?” Anifah said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee, who also backed Hajiji, said many Sabah districts with lower population densities had been recording very few or no new cases for weeks, and even for months, amid the on-going vaccination programme.

“Thus, there should not be a situation where ‘one-size-fits-all’ SOPs are rigidly applied to all states and regions in the whole of Malaysia,” he said in a statement.

He said, in fact, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had previously praised Sabah as being exemplary in curbing Covid-19, comparing the success of the state in combating the pandemic with other states.

“Moreover, we must not forget that in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), and based on the prime minister’s announcement in Sarawak a few months ago, Sabah and Sarawak are wilayah (regions) and not simply a state like those in Peninsular Malaysia,” Yong said. - FMT

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