The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) today called for an immediate end to the Covid-19 lockdown, citing the damage sustained by businesses and the economy since the first movement control order (MCO) was enforced in March last year.
MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said there had to be a “reasonable balance” between saving lives and livelihoods.
“The restrictions under the FMCO (full MCO) and confusion over SOPs are killing businesses with many SMEs and micro enterprises severely impacted.
“Employers are prepared to endure even tighter restrictions under the FMCO and even higher penalties for breaking the rules to end the lockdown, but the issue of livelihoods must also be addressed,” he said in a statement.
He urged the government to allow all sectors to reopen, warning that failure to do so would risk “serious economic and social implications”.
He also said that thousands of companies in non-essential sectors would be forced to shut down if the lockdown is not lifted soon.
“Some of the micro enterprises and SMEs are suffering at a level beyond recovery and need urgent help,” he added.
“There comes a time when livelihoods must take priority as many people depend on their business. Even large companies need to operate to survive, to meet overhead costs.”
The current lockdown was imposed on June 1. It was originally scheduled to end on June 14, but was extended to June 28 in light of the continued trend of high Covid-19 numbers.
Syed Hussain said even companies permitted to operate during the lockdown were facing difficulties due to disruptions in their supply chains.
“Most of all, the implications extend beyond employers to the ordinary man on the street who needs to put food on the table and meet his basic commitments,” he said.
“We need to open up and provide financial aid quickly.”
The MEF had initially voiced acceptance of the nationwide lockdown as critical to flattening the Covid-19 curve although it described it as “a bitter pill to swallow”.
It also suggested that stimulus packages be given by the government to address the expected toll on businesses and employees.