Unemployment knows no mercy.
The Straits Times have reported that Industries Unite (IU), which comprises 115 business and trade groups – mostly representing micro enterprises – said yesterday that it would be counterproductive to overcome Covid-19 if Malaysians were to “die of starvation”.
This is referring to the long-lasting Movement Control Orders (MCO) and National Recovery Plan (NRP) which has throttled business’ operating hours, workers, and efficiency– leading to a slow economy and rising unemployment.
In fact, last year, Malaysia hit 5.3% unemployment rate– the highest in 3 decades, while the number floated around 4.6% just before the NRP was put in place this year.
The people are starving, and resorting to stealing
As a result, the founder of retail chain Mydin noted that theft has increased as well– though for staples such as fish and vegetables instead of big-ticket items like TVs.
This is very sad. The sale of noodles has skyrocketed because that’s all people can afford.Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, founder of Mydin, during IU’s media briefing.
Mydin rolled out an initiative to help the needy and received 5,000 requests within 24 hours, he added.
This is in addition to the #BenderaPutih movement, which allows Malaysians to put up a white flag signalling for help, while those with the means to do so set up food banks and pantry supplies for free.
When can our economy resume?
IU coordinator Irwin Cheong noted that government has yet to respond to the coalition’s open letter asking for businesses to resume.
He goes on to add that the government should stop labelling businesses as essential or non-essential as “everyone is essential, every life matters”.
Right now, under the NRP, only a partial reopening of the economy is planned after September, while a full reopening of the economy is planned for the end of the year.
However, businesses have said that they would not be able to survive until then while still bearing overhead costs with little financial aid to help.
Covid-19 cases still rising despite lockdown
The Klang Valley has been in lockdown mode, on-and-off, for 16 months and yet Covid-19 cases in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur show no sign of decline.
Sehingga 7 Julai 2021: Jumlah kes COVID-19 yang dilaporkan adalah 7,097 kes (799,790 kes)— KKM Portal MyHealth (@MyHEALTHKKM) July 7, 2021
Pecahan setiap negeri (Kumulatif):
Selangor – 3,119 (268,841)
WPKL – 1,005 (83,909)
Johor – 224 (73,386)
Sabah – 244 (71,189)
Sarawak – 289 (67,560)
Negeri Sembilan – 788 (49,417)
Despite the near-total closure of the economy, things on the Covid-19 front have not seen much improvement, which led the group to urge the government to change its strategy.
This is no longer a question of businesses wanting to reopen, but it is a question of the mental health and well-being of the people.Datuk David Gurupatham, co-founder of IU
However Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah noted that things could have been much, much worse without such drastic measures.
In fact, Dr Noor Hisham has said the Health Ministry will always take the “lives over livelihood” approach, putting the health of the people first.
Anne is an advocate of sustainable living and the circular economy, and has managed to mum-nag the team into using reusable containers to tapau food. She is also a proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.