Manufacturers want their members to be inoculated as soon as possible

PETALING JAYA: As some manufacturing industry players say they face difficulty registering for the public-private vaccination effort by the government, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) is adamant that the sector is not the chief contributor to the high number of Covid-19 cases in the country.

Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia president Siew Choon Thye said its 1, 900 members nationwide were eager to participate in the Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (Pikas) following its launch last month.

He said some members had yet to receive their login ID and password to access the system since registering for the programme on June 18.

“Many of us have only received a confirmation email but not the full login details and password, ” he said when contacted yesterday.

Pikas was launched on June 16 as an initiative under the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) with the aim of inoculating at least two million workers in the manufacturing sector by the third quarter of this year.

According to Miti, as of July 12, 69, 642 vaccines had been administered for the first dose under Pikas.

Siew stressed the importance of inoculating their members as soon as possible.

“Many of our members are also involved in the manufacturing side such as providing transmission cables and other industrial-related items.

“It is important for the government to accelerate the vaccination process as we are inter-connected with other sectors, ” he said.

Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association president Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam said they had been clamouring for vaccination to be given to them even at their own cost.

“Unfortunately, it is still unavailable to us despite us having registered. Under Pikas, the rate of vaccinating our members is still minimal, ” he said.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia’s SMEs committee chairman Koong Lin Loong said that considering the current high cases in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, the government should boost the Pikas programme.

“It is good that the government has specific initiatives such as Pikas but it needs to also move concurrently and vaccinate those in other sectors such as services.

“If you help businesses, especially those involving the B40 and M40 groups, by giving them vaccination, it will help them sustain their rice bowl and avoid further retrenchments during this challenging period, ” he said.

FFM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, meanwhile, said it was unfair to blame the manufacturing sector for the high number of Covid-19 cases.

He cited data from the Health Ministry that 69%, or 398, 846 out of 578, 105, of the Covid-19 cases recorded this year were detected in the community and not linked to any clusters.

“FMM is deeply concerned with the repeated allegations in the media on factories as a primary source of Covid-19 infections and wishes to clear this misconception, ” Soh said in a statement.

He added that Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had recently told the business community that factories only accounted for 30% of workplace clusters.

“This works out to around only 6% of the total number of cases that can be attributed to factories.

“Even more recently, MOH had reported that only 15, 069 out of a total of 156, 105 (9.7%) infection cases from June 1 to 26 this year were attributed to the manufacturing sector, ” he said.

According to FMM’s own analysis from June 1 to July 12, Soh said manufacturing cluster cases were also well below the workplace cluster cases.

He, however, acknowledged that the risk of factory infections could not be totally eliminated, especially with the high percentage of sporadic cases and the virus in the community.

“This most certainly cannot be equated to the lack of Covid-19 standard operating procedure compliance by factories and is a very unfair conclusion to be made, ” he said.

Soh urged for the manufacturing sector to be allowed to continue to operate, noting that other businesses could not be sustained if factory operations were closed and the possibility of a significant loss of jobs.

He also pledged the manufacturers’ full commitment and support to the government’s efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

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