GRS SHOULD DO WHAT WARISAN DID DURING MCO 1.0 - JUNZ WONG
14 JAN 2021
By Ruby Koh
KOTA KINABALU: The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led government should emulate what the previous government did between March and August last year when the first Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented, by providing assistances to the people of Sabah, said Warisan Vice President Datuk Junz Wong.
Back when Warisan was the government, two economic plans amounting to roughly a billion ringgit were devised as an effort to ease the burden of the people while also indirectly help flatten the Covid-19 curve in Sabah.
The two economic stimulus packages were 'Sabah We Care' (RM670 million) in March 2020 and 'Sabah New Deal' (RM240 million) in June 2020.
Junz said that people stayed at home because food packs were distributed, cash assistances were given, loans were disbursed, various economic programmes were implemented and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) were clear and detailed.
"Although some were worried, eventually the vast majority of Sabahans stayed at home peacefully because help was coming from the Warisan government,” he said in his statement today.
He stated that in between June and July 2020, Sabah's cases successfully dropped to zero for weeks with only one or two new daily cases occasionally, while the peninsula still recorded hundreds, if not thousands, of new daily cases.
"Eventually we started relaxing the MCO and SOPs. Since then, cases within Sabah were under control,” he added.
According to Junz, the GRS government's inability to see what is coming and lack of political will are what has resulted in today's failure to curtail the pandemic.
"About three months ago, Warisan told GRS that MCO was needed because cases were not going down. We also told GRS that while MCO is needed, the government also needs to spend money to stimulate the economy.
"This is so that daily wage earners, small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) and business owners do not have to worry. These are the worst-hit segments of society," he explained, adding that GRS however is doing the contrary today.
"GRS did not like the idea and proposal. Instead, GRS abolished the Sabah Health Ministry and said it was redundant. They even told everyone to go back to work as early as October 2020, despite the thousands of new cases being recorded every day," he said.
"GRS also started relaxing SOPs and started ignoring the 14-day quarantine, including the Deputy Chief Minister from Tambunan who shortened his 14-day quarantine twice. He eventually contracted Covid-19 at a gathering with party members in Keningau.
"All these while, the GRS leaders were acting as if nothing is happening,” he asserted.
Junz who is also the Tanjung Aru State Assemblyman said, the situation has risked public health because as the state government did not want to spend money on Covid-19 assistances.
"They (GRS government) did not have an economic stimulus plan. They were very stingy on food assistance. They were very extremely selective in who could receive help.
"As a result, today, we are facing both a health and economic crisis. The number of cases is not going down, and the economy is neither showing signs of recovery.
"They cannot even solve simple problems like toilet cleanliness at the quarantine centres. Patients in Kota Kinabalu are sent all the way to Kota Belud. But they said a Health Ministry is not needed?" he questioned.
Elaborating on the economy, Junz added that it was not impossible for the economy to revive during the pandemic.
"During this pandemic specifically, people are moving to smart technology and e-commerce. Netflix, Facebook, Google, Amazon, or even local platforms like Lazada and Shopee are seeing a boom in their businesses.
"Look at our neighbours Indonesia. E-commerce and online platforms have receives tens of billions in investments from Temasek (Singapore), Tencent (China), Facebook (US), Amazon (US) and Google (US). They have also received close to a hundred billion in investment from next-generation technologies like CATL (China), Hyundai (South Korea) and LG (South Korea).
"All these investments happened during the Covid-19 pandemic. Is Indonesia not facing a pandemic? Why can Indonesia receive hundreds of billions in investment during a pandemic and why can't Malaysia? Why can't Sabah?"
He urged the state government to immediately devise assistances and economic plans instead of waiting for approval from the federal government.