Ramp up Covid-19 testing for undocumented migrants, urges Huazong

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 24 May 2020

PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has called for the testing and contact tracing on undocumented migrant workers to be ramped up.

Its president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said it was important as migrant workers have been identified as a high-risk group besides being a “hidden reservoir” for Covid-19 transmission.

“The government should review, improve and enhance the existing mechanism of Covid-19 screening for foreign workers, especially those in the construction sector.

“As of the end of last month, only 15,000 out of the estimated two million legal migrant workers have undergone the screening since the government made it a requirement for them to be tested before allowing them to resume work.

“At the present slow rate of testing, it may take another six months to complete the tests on all the migrant workers, and this may seriously hamper the government’s ongoing efforts to revive the economy, ” Goh said in a statement Sunday (May 24).

The government, he said, should standardise the fee charged by private hospitals for Covid-19 screening at a reasonable and affordable rate to avoid confusion and dispute.

“Also, a special reward should be given to frontliners from different sectors in recognition of their selfless contribution towards fighting the pandemic, ” he added.

On the issues of schools preparing to reopen, Goh said they should be allowed to split classes into morning and afternoon sessions in view of the need to maintain social distancing.

“The same approach may also apply to the operations of the school canteen, library, and the use of school auditorium.

“The Education Ministry should also take into consideration of the potential issue of insufficient classrooms facing the Chinese primary schools and independent schools if they were to spread over the students in compliance with the social distancing requirement.

“While there is a need to ramp up the existing Internet coverage and speed at some schools, the authorities must be aware of teachers potentially facing tremendous stress teaching under the new norm, especially if the school is already facing a shortage of teachers, ” he said.

Goh also said that another RM5bil should be added to the existing RM5bil special relief fund for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to let more entrepreneurs secure financing.

Since the financing scheme was rolled out, it has allowed some 20,000 businesses to obtain financing up to a maximum amount of RM1mil, at a 3.5% annual interest rate, he said.

“The government should also consider extending the May 15 deadline for micro-SMEs to apply for the one-off RM3,000 financial assistance under the Geran Khas Prihatin, which has so far benefitted some 700,000 micro-SMEs.

“The wage subsidy scheme should also be expanded to cover businesses that are currently still unable to reopen, such as the tourism and entertainment industries, ” he said.

Goh also called for a special discount for toll fees throughout the country and special road tax rebate or waiver for commercial vehicles to lessen the people’s financial burden.

“Heavy vehicles like lorries and trucks have been badly affected by the movement control order (MCO).

“Like tour bus operators, school bus operators should also be given the one-time cash aid of RM600 to help ease their financial burden, ” he said, adding that a rebate should also be given for vehicle inspection by Puspakom.

Supporting the government’s move to set up a National Food Security Council, Goh said this would help reduce import and boost export of food supply, stimulate foreign revenues, stabilise and bring down food prices, and accelerate development in the agriculture sector.

“The government should revive the incentives scheme for vegetable and fruits farmers, which had been shelved for the past 10 years, to boost the quantity and quality of food production.

“Currently, fishermen and padi farmers in the country are given incentives, ” he added.

Goh also lauded the government’s move to draft a law on temporary measures to help reduce the effects of Covid-19.

“The government needs to ensure the proposed Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Bill is implemented in a proper, just and fair manner, including preventing it from being abused by interested parties.”

Huazong, he added, will continue to gather feedback and issues raised by its member associations, the Chinese community and the business sector.

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