Eurocham Malaysia’s Feb 4 lockdown ‘prank’ no laughing matter

“Should the infection rate not decrease, the Malaysian government will announce a shutdown/strict lockdown immediately after Feb 4, 2021.”

That sentence was from the second paragraph of the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Eurocham Malaysia) Jan 23 letter to its members following an informal meeting with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) a day earlier. It was a sentence that got the nation buzzing.

Barely 24 hours after the letter was ‘leaked’, Eurocham Malaysia issued a statement, saying: “Please be informed that the communique was an internal circular that was sent out to all our members to relay the essence of the informal discussion – and the commendable efforts of the Malaysian government – in tackling the spread of Covid-19.”

Its Jan 24 statement, which sees the organisation commending the Malaysian government’s efforts repeatedly, added: “while MITI underscored the heightened sense of urgency that currently prevails, given the rising number of (Covid-19) cases, there was no mention of an immediate lockdown after Feb 4”.

Is this an admission that Eurocham Malaysia had misformed its stakeholders? For the record, there are over 1,600 companies linked to the organisation.

If there was no mention of an immediate lockdown after Feb 4 during the informal discussion, was the whole lockdown tale made up?

Or was it a situation where Eurocham Malaysia merely reported what was said during the discussion, only to be pressured to retract the statement, given the potential panic and fear it could cause to business owners who are already struggling to stay alive?

It must be noted that Eurocham Malaysia was in the limelight not too long ago after its chief executive officer Sven Schneider took a swipe at Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on LinkedIn. Schneider was unimpressed with the Finance Minister’s post that said Malaysia remained an attractive business hub for foreign investors.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, during a Facebook live session this afternoon, also lambasted Tengku Zafrul for his “attempt to fool the people”.

“We know the total foreign investment in Asean has increased, in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore … while in Malaysia, based on a study, (foreign investment) is only five per cent.

“But the Finance Minister keeps saying we are the best investment destination. I don’t know which bible he is referring to but it’s clearly confusing and not based on facts,” Anwar added.

Economies in Malaysia are already suffering badly and enforcing a total lockdown could see a spike in unemployment rates with more businesses expected to fold.

If the supposed lockdown is to take place on Feb 4, it’s only fair for business owners to be informed in advance to do the needful. If there was no discussion about a total lockdown on Feb 4, then Eurocham Malaysia’s ‘prank’ is no laughing matter.

Here’s a round-up of The News Normal today.

‘END NOWHERE TO BE SEEN IN MALAYSIA’S COVID-19 BATTLE’

In a tweet to mark one year since Covid-19 hit Malaysia today, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the end is nowhere near as he urged everyone to “shoulder this responsibility to save our country together.”

He also reminded the public to comply with standard operating procedures, including wearing a face mask, washing hands and maintain physical distancing.

Malaysia detected its first imported case of Covid-19 on Jan 25, 2020. It was traced back to three Chinese nationals who had close contact with an infected person in Singapore.

A total of 3,048 cases were recorded today with 11 deaths. To date, there have been 186,849 cases and 689 deaths, recorded nationwide.

KUALA TERENGGANU DISTRICT EDUCATION OFFICE UNDER FIRE

The National Union of the Teaching Profession is disappointed and worried over news that 11 teachers from Terengganu had tested positive for Covid-19.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan said the teachers were instructed by the Kuala Terengganu district education department to attend a home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) training. The session, held recently, was conducted face-to-face.

“Are they (the education department) unaware of the current situation and were the teachers provided with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) like face masks, overcoats and were the standard operating procedures adhered to?”

“I urge the Education Ministry to re-look the aspect of teachers’ safety, especially those teaching students who are sitting for their SPM, STPM, STAM and SVM examinations this year. I also hope the ministry can provide PPE equipment to teachers to ensure their safety and health,” Tan said.

‘SUPPORT LOCAL CLUBS INSTEAD OF EPL TEAMS’

Kemaman-based Muhammad Yunus Zakariah wonders why many Malaysians glorify the English Premier League as he finds happiness with and feels connected to Real Chukai FC and Kerteh FC.

He adds the two east coast clubs are closest to where he lives, allowing him to contribute to them beyond his cheers and roars.

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