Mixed reaction over situation in Penang

Safety first: A foodstall operator wearing a face mask while handling food at a stall in Bayan Lepas. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Instead of the statewide conditional movement control order, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has asked the National Security Council (NSC) to consider implementing it in targeted sub-districts and specific localities.

“We have urged the state NSC to make this recommendation at the special meeting of the national-level NSC, ” he said in a statement yesterday, referring to the NSC meeting today to decide on the conditional MCO that is due to end on Sunday.

Many Penangites interviewed yesterday also share the chief minister’s view.

Lawyer R. Krishnan is praying the conditional MCO will be lifted in Penang because one of the most important events in his family is happening soon; his only son is tying the knot with his childhood sweetheart.

Krishnan, 56, said 300 invitation cards were sent out but if the conditional MCO stays, they would have to scale it down to a modest 30 attendees of close family members.

“The wedding was to be held four months ago but when the lockdown was enforced in March, we postponed it to December, thinking that things would surely improve.

“We ordered food for 400 guests and paid the deposits for the decorations and cameramen.

“This is my only son’s wedding. We planned it out for almost a year, right down to all the tiny details.

“Now we can only hope that everything goes as planned, ” he said.

Also hoping the conditional MCO to end is pasar malam fruit stall operator Faizal Mat Daud, 43, from Bayan Baru, where the Bayan cluster still reports new cases every day.

“I pray the conditional MCO is lifted as I need to bring home an income.

“I have four young daughters and bills to pay. It has been a struggle this whole year.

“Since we are not allowed to operate, we are living in a constant state of worry, ” he said.

Faizal said he hoped to open a roadside stall but was told that even that was not allowed.

“I understand that people are worried and we need to be safe but as long as the standard operating procedure (SOP) are followed, our pasar malam should be allowed to operate, ” he said.

But Mohd Norsukri Hussain, 43, who sells roti canai smack in the middle of Mukim 12, a Covid-19 red zone, said the conditional MCO should be extended.

“My business has gone down by 60%. But I understand the dangers of easing the restrictions.

“People tend not to follow rules unless there is enforcement and police going around, ” he said.

Mohd Norsukri said as long as the government allowed stalls to operate according to the SOP, he was fine if the conditional MCO was extended until next year.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang chairman K. Raj Kumar hoped the conditional MCO would be lifted and replaced with a targeted MCO.

“A targeted enhanced MCO is better for the economy.

“In Penang, since the MCO started in March, five hotels have either shut down temporarily or permanently.

“Interstate travel needs to be allowed. As long people are not allowed in and out of the red zone areas, there should be no problems, ” he said.

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