PETALING JAYA: Iron and steel hardware dealers, stockists and wholesalers should be allowed to operate during the lockdown period, says the Federation of Malaysia Hardware, Machinery & Building Materials Dealers’ Association (FMHMBA).
President Datuk Eric Koh said more than 80% of the association's 3,000 members nationwide are small and medium enterprises and have been badly affected since the first movement control order last year.
"We do understand the difficulties of our government which is trying very hard to balance between managing the pandemic and ensuring minimum adversity to the economy.
"However, we urge the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to allow iron and steel hardware dealers, stockists and wholesalers to continue supporting all other essential sectors during the extended lockdown period with reduced workers at site of not more than 60% and 40% work from home," he said in a statement on Saturday (June 19).
Koh added that the hardware sector is part of the supply chain to support essential sectors such as palm oil, food, beverages, farming, plantations, electricity, water, chemicals, and rubber gloves.
"During the extended lockdown period, many non-essential sectors have ceased operations hence business transactions are very limited.
"The hardware sector is operating merely to ensure continuous supply to other essential sectors like utilities, food, oil and gas, chemicals, rubber gloves, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other products in order not to disrupt the supply chain of essential consumer products," he argued.
He also urged the government to provide proper guidance and instructions on the implementation of standard operating procedures for businesses during the lockdown.
"In fact, many breaches of the SOP are unintentional as many are unaware.
"We feel that the government has the responsibility to guide and assist business through the relevant agencies to comply with the SOP rather than immediately penalising business owners," he said.
Citing an example, Koh said that some business premises have been issued with a RM10,000 compound notice for not having dedicated in and out lanes as well as employers being fined when their employees forgot to use the MySejahtera app.
"The penalty of RM10,000 is definitely too heavy in such a case. Comparatively, it is much heavier penalty than other criminal or civil offences," added Koh.