‘Be clearer about essential services’

PETALING JAYA: Consumer groups have urged the government to revisit its criteria on what kind of business services can open during the movement control order period given the inconsistent interpretation as to what constitutes “essential services”.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj questioned the government’s criteria, adding that it had to explain its decision as this had an impact on businesses and workers.

“There must be a clear reason and there should be support for the workers.

“Is the government going to introduce a package for workers who are going to lose their jobs? What is the support for them? Is the moratorium going to be extended?

“This is arbitrary, where they just close the shops without seeing the impact on people’s lives. Businesses that have followed the SOP, there must be a reason why they are not allowed to operate, ” he said.

If a business is not allowed to operate, Paul said support must be given to its workers, adding that this should cover the entire period they are closed.

“We must think about the rakyat’s welfare. It is not just about cutting their lifestyle, their livelihoods and not doing anything about it. It is totally unjust.

“As much as possible, especially small businesses which employ most of their workers in Malaysia, they should be allowed to operate unless there is a particular reason for them not to, ” he added.

Under the MCO, among the types of businesses allowed to operate are shopping malls, restaurants, furniture shops, jewellery shops, electronic shops, stationery shops, bookshops, hardware shops, pet shops and petrol stations.

However, tuition centres, music centres, optical shops, hair salons, spas, reflexology centres, clothing shops and others are not permitted to operate.

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) officer Uma Ramaswamy said a lot of confusion had arisen over this issue.

“I think we need to have a clearer picture and people need to know why some businesses have been given the go-ahead and some have not, ” she said.

Uma said “essential services” needed to be defined, questioning why optical shops were not allowed to open but jewellery shops were allowed instead.

“We feel that a lot of confusion has come up again in this MCO on what can open and what cannot open. We are urging the government to make it clearer, ” she said.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Datuk Nadzim Johan concurred that people were in a quandary on the government’s decision in only allowing certain businesses to operate.

“We have received a lot of complaints from the ground as far as this is concerned, ” he said.

Nadzim called for the government to look into the grouses on the ground seriously, adding that there were more questions than answers that had resulted in frustration.

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