Manufacturers caught in the middle Govt, states to work out differences


The space between us: Sitting apart is the new normal for those riding the MRT and other public transport.

KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of manufacturers are in a quandary; whether to restart their operations as allowed by the Federal Government or risk straining their relationship with state governments which are not following the conditional movement control order (MCO).

“We have to play the balancing act now,” said Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) President Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai.

“We know we have the legal right (to operate) but we fear if we open our factories, we’d risk being shut down and we do not want that to sour our relationship with the state government and local authorities.

“As far as we manufacturers are concerned, we are of the opinion that the state governments should follow the directive of the Federal Government,” he said.

Under the conditional MCO, the National Security Council (NSC) has given the green light to most industries to operate from May 4, guided by strict standard operating procedure.

Senior Minister in charge of economic cluster Datuk Seri Azmin Ali on Monday urged state governments to comply with the conditional MCO or risk possible lawsuits for not allowing industries to operate.

The Star reported on Monday that nine states are not adhering to or fully complying with the Federal Government’s move to ease conditions and let businesses resume with set guidelines under the conditional MCO.

Kedah, Sabah, Pahang, Penang, Kelantan and Sarawak have decided not to follow the move, while Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan said it would limit the number of businesses allowed to resume operations and restrict dine-ins at restaurants and sports and recreational activities.

Soh also said that during the MCO, almost 70% of Covid-19 patients have recovered.

“We already had 49 days of MCO. There are now about 1,780 cases being treated in the hospital.

“Not allowing the manufacturers to operate does not mean that the number of cases will go down.”

He pointed out that quite a number of the more than 10,000 manufacturers under FMM may have to shut down if they are not allowed to operate.

In Petaling Jaya, other industry players want the Federal Government and state governments to trash out their differences over conditional MCO.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang believes that business chambers in the various states need to discuss the matter with their local government.

“Businesses need to apply for licenses with the local government, and they have the authority to guide businesses.

“It is best if the business chambers have a dialogue with their state government and give their proposal on how to make it work,” he added.

Kang said laws and regulations are to resolve problems but taking legal action against one another would only complicate things.

“We should all work hand in hand,” he added.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said state governments that do not comply with the conditional MCO will leave a bad impression on investors.

He added that the situation was discussed at the NSC meeting together with representatives from both the state and federal government.

“So now to say they don’t want to buy into whatever that has been decided, I would say it’s not good.

“It is paramount that companies kick start to rebuild the economy and everybody should support it.”

Shamsuddin also said it’s pointless to talk about lawsuits as such matters only take time.

He said it is best for the Federal Government to co-ordinate with the states to resolve the matter as soon as possible so that the companies can resume operations.

“My main worry is these things are not good for the nation’s image.

“Investors, both foreign and local, are watching us closely,” Shamsuddin added

Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) Datuk Gary Chua said that although supporting and agreeing with the Federal Government’s move to implement the conditional MCO, members in the affected states will abide by the decisions made by their respective state government.

“There was some confusion among members here in Selangor.

“However, out of respect for the local authorities, food and beverages outlets here have decided not to open for dining although the Federal Government announced that it was okay to do so under social distancing conditions,” he said when contacted.

He said differences over the implementation of the conditional MCO at the state level is affecting business, especially in the malls where food and beverages operators make up over 40% of the business.

“The affected outlet operators will use the time to sanitise their premises and prepare to open for business again when the MCO ends in a week.

“It is only seven days more and they are willing to wait,” he said in reference to the current extended MCO two-week period which ends on May 12.

On the possibility of the states being sued for non-compliance with federal law by those from the affected industries, Chua said this is unlikely.

“I don’t think this will happen.

“Who would want to sue the government?” he asked.

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