Penang wasn’t consulted either, CM says on CMCO

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow today joined his Sabah counterpart in denying that Putrajaya had consulted state governments on its plan to relax restraints for businesses under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

At a press conference here, he said state leaders were told that they would have a say on the CMCO but were never given a chance.

He said Penang was told about the plan on April 28 and assured that a standard operating procedure (SOP) would be put in place.

He said the SOP was to have been released once all state governments had been given a chance to submit their feedback. According to him, however, that chance never came.

“None of us (state governments) objected to the CMCO. We even told the prime minister we would support it. All we needed was time to strategise.”

Earlier today, Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal also denied that he had been consulted about replacing the MCO with the CMCO.

He said he only learnt of the decision after it had been announced on television.

Chow said he had also called for a state security meeting with federal officers on May 1.

“But the federal officers told us the SOP was not ready and that they were not ready to meet.

“We have no reason to go against the CMCO. But we need to strike a balance between people’s lives and the economy. That is why we opted for a gradual opening strategy instead of a big bang approach by Azmin Ali.”

He also hit out at Azmin, who yesterday warned state governments over non-compliance with the CMCO, asking if the senior minister had been too “lazy” to obtain a consensus on the matter.

“Stop intimidating us (with lawsuits), but let’s work together.

“Azmin Ali, you decide if you want to work with us,” he said.

Azmin had warned that state governments which refuse to implement the CMCO could face legal action from industries for preventing the economy from opening up as planned.

Penang was one of several states which had expressed reservations over the conditional order, opting instead to open up its economy in stages from May 8 to 12.

At the press conference today, Chow said Putrajaya’s date of May 4 was too early for Penang as it was the most densely populated state in the country and at risk of higher virus spread.

He also said his administration had no choice but to restart its economy in stages to avoid a resurgence of infections.

“We are prepared to face legal action for protecting 1.8 million Penangites from being infected with Covid-19,” he said.

He added that the plan was supported by Penang opposition leader Muhammad Yusoff Mohd Noor and Deputy Higher Education Minister Mansor Othman.

There are presently no active Covid-19 cases in Penang.

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