COVID-19 vaccination, economic measures and assistance for the rakyat took centre stage on the first day of the Dewan Rakyat special sitting.
Datuk Salim Sharif (BN-Jempol) said that 49% of the micro SME sector, or up to 580,000, were at risk of closing down by October should lockdowns continue.
“This will cause as many as seven million Malaysians to be at risk of being unemployed.
“This will have direct impact on 14 million people and as a result, micro SMEs might not be able to rise again when the economy reopens,” he said.
Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (PAS-Pasir Puteh) urged the government to prepare carefully when re-opening the economy.
“That is why there are appeals made to the government to open the economic sector in stages within a short period of time but the government must prepare enough vaccinations,” he said.
Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias (BN-Jelebu) said he was concerned with the nation’s public service system and contract medical workers, as well as frontliners following the surge of the Covid-19 cases recently.
“The Health Ministry must do something about the plight of over 2,000 contract nurses and now we are seeing the issue of 23,000 contract doctors.
“The issue should be given focus and be made the main priority,” he said.
Jalaluddin also wanted more private hospitals to offer their services to Covid-19 patients, saying that the current number was still too small.
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (IND-Muar) said windfall tax should be imposed on companies that profited from the Covid-19 pandemic and the money be used to improve the welfare of contract doctors.
The former youth and sports minister said the Perikatan Nasional government should not be afraid to impose such a tax on big companies which made huge profits during the pandemic while a majority of Malaysians struggled to make ends meet.
“The reality is that the pandemic has caused the rich to grow richer while the poor get poorer,” he said, adding that the nation’s poverty rate had doubled, causing an estimated 600,000 people to fall into poverty.
Syed Saddid added that more than one million Malaysians were now jobless and 500,000 more were expected to lose their jobs in the next three months.
“The average Malaysian salary has gone down by 17% but at the same time, the 50 richest people in Malaysia have increased their wealth by 14%,” he said.
Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) meanwhile urged the government to remove unnecessary red tape in the vaccination programme.
“Red tape is hindering valuable resources such as private healthcare facilities and other government bodies from being able to help the government in accelerating the mass immunisation programme.
“If a private hospital can perform something as complex as heart surgery, it doesn’t make sense that it can’t be empowered or authorised to jab people with a needle.
“Unfortunately, this is not happening in our country,” he said.