Ex-ministers welcome restrictions but say details still vague

Loke Siew Fook, Saifuddin Nasution and Khalid Samad give their feedback on the government’s movement control order through a Facebook Live video.

PETALING JAYA: Three former ministers under the Pakatan Harapan government have welcomed Covid-19 restrictions announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last night, but point out problems over implementation as well as a lack of details.

They are former transport minister Loke Siew Fook, former domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Saifuddin Nasution and former federal territories minister Khalid Samad.

Saifuddin said the government must explain its guarantee of food sufficiency during the restriction period, adding that Malaysia imports food from countries affected by Covid-19.

“We rely heavily on food imports. Last year we imported some RM51 billion in food,” he said.

He said the government was also vague on the status of shops which are categorised as essential services, including restaurants, stalls and fast food outlets.

“We need clearer answers on this,” he said, adding that a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document should be prepared to help the public.

He said the government should procure three-ply face masks directly from local manufacturers to overcome the shortage in the market.

Saifuddin said the PH government had approved a RM5 million allocation to buy seven million face masks directly from manufacturers, adding that the order could be fulfilled in a week.

“We had identified companies willing to supply to the government for RM5 million. We hope the government can expedite this purchase.”

Muhyiddin last night announced a ban on public gatherings and events as well as the closure of schools, government offices and business premises from tomorrow until March 31.

Only essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banking as well as utilities will remain open.

Meanwhile, Loke warned that restrictions on travel will negatively affect over 300,000 Malaysians who commute daily to Singapore.

He said Malaysians who are now barred from traveling to Singapore for work should get an assurance about their job security.

“Even in the north, many Malaysians need to travel back and forth to Thailand. We hope the Prime Minister’s Office can answer this clearly in the coming hours, because by tonight, our borders will be closed.”

Loke questioned if restrictions also applied to interstate travels.

He noted that some experts have urged people not to go back to their hometowns.

Khalid meanwhile spoke on the income of traders and whether they would get financial support.

He said “Even if there is a sufficient supply of food, if they don’t have money (it’s a problem). These are questions we need answers to.”