Selangor, KL EMCO seems no different than past lockdown rules

Anyone going through the defence minister’s statement regarding the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) from July 3 till July 16 would be struck by the absence of anything concrete.

Earlier in the day, the public were told to brace for some ‘tough measures’ by the government to rein in the runaway Covid-19 numbers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Many thought that finally, the government was going to deal with the workplace clusters.

The run-up was full of drama, the buildup worthy of a John Le Carre thriller. Alas, when it came, the measures announced by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob fell far short of the mark.

Of course, Ismail Sabri did announce more stringent movement control measures for Kuala Lumpur and parts of Selangor; that was expected. But the measures looked all too familiar. They lacked imagination.

It was a given that this would happen, seeing how Selangor and Kuala Lumpur had consistently ratcheted up the highest number of Covid-19 cases for weeks now. That it took the government this long to actually do something about it was the real surprise.

Sifting through Ismail Sabri’s 20-page document, one would quickly realise that the minister, and by extension, this government, had failed to address the elephant in the room.

In May, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said between April 1 and May 26, the manufacturing sector was the main petri dish for these Covid-19 clusters. A total of 132 clusters, or 46 per cent, were from this sector.

On June 30, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari finally said what the rakyat had known all along – that 91 per cent of the total number of clusters in Selangor are workplace related, of which a whopping 80 per cent were factory clusters, and 11 per cent were construction site clusters. There are 125 active clusters in the state.

Despite the stats from these two independent sources, on June 28, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said only five to 10 per cent of the total number of Covid-19 positive cases were from the manufacturing sector.

On June 30, Azmin once again said it was unfair to lay the blame squarely at the feet of the manufacturing sector for the spike in cases.

Barely a day later, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin insisted that the manufacturing sector was the main contributor of Covid-19 clusters.

“When we discussed it and looked at the scientific data, most of it stemmed from clusters in workers’ dormitories – both manufacturing and businesses,” he had said.

Hamzah went so far as to say that it was unfair for the manufacturing sector to be allowed to operate without abiding by the rules.

Clearly, someone is not playing with a full deck.

In going through Ismail Sabri’s statement, one is struck by the lack of a concrete plan to deal with the spike in workplace clusters. It was a regurgitation of operating hours, number of individuals allowed in a vehicle at any one time, approval letters, and semantics over essential businesses, ad nauseum.

Even the current plan is not very convincing. Ismail Sabri said the 20,701-strong Compliance Task Force had conducted 98,376 checks nationwide. Of the 2,133 spot checks conducted on factories and 11,369 business premises on June 30, only three factories and 10 business premises were ordered to shut down for non-compliance of the standard operating procedures.

Inspiring stats indeed.

There was no mention of how many factories and places of business that had been shuttered since the latest MCO began, no mention of how many dormitories that will be inspected, no warnings to business owners on the kind of hell on earth that would be brought down on them if they flouted the regulations.

The lack of a comprehensive plan in the statement raises doubts over this administration’s seriousness in tackling the biggest source of infections in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

It was once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Judging by this latest development, it looks like the lunatics have taken over the asylum.