AN Opposition MP has urged the government to subsidise the production of reusable fabric face masks to ease the financial burden of Malaysians.
Klang MP Charles Santiago said Putrajaya should consider this so that the face masks could be affordable for all.
“A family of four using four pieces of single-use face masks a day will pay RM144 a month (120 pieces a month at RM1.20 a piece), or 12% of the country’s minimum wage of RM1,200.
“The other possible scenario is that the B40 and the lower M40 categories, migrant workers and refugees might end up reusing (single-use) face masks to cut costs, thereby putting themselves and others at risk, ” he said at a press conference in Parliament yesterday.
At the same time, Santiago said subsidising fabric masks would also create job opportunities for those who had lost their jobs due to the movement control order (MCO) imposed in March.
“I’m talking about a cottage industry which could spur entrepreneurship and employment for people who have lost jobs during the MCO period, ” he added.
Santiago also said that the government could cooperate with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes such as Mara and others offering design and tailoring class to start producing for the market.
“And pump in money towards research and development to ensure these masks will pass various tests such as bacterial filtration efficiency, particle filtration efficiency, synthetic blood penetration (resistance), fluid resistance, filtration rate and flammability, ” said Santiago, who added that countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam already started creating face masks using innovative methods.
He argued that reusable face masks were more environmentally friendly and helped mitigate climate change.
“We can also do all these with glamour by incorporating beautiful batik fabric and prints, ” he said.
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