MICCI calls for end of MCO, warns of lasting economic damage if prolonged

MICCI president Datuk Tan Cheng Kiat

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 28): The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) today congratulated the government for bringing the spread of Covid-19 under control, adding that it was now time to end the lockdown of the economy.

In a statement, MICCI president Datuk Tan Cheng Kiat said: “It is time to make decisions based not on fear but facts. The facts are that the Malaysian mortality rate from Covid-19 is extremely low, and almost all the deaths are from underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer.”

Tan said the Movement Control Order (MCO) was intended to flatten the curve, not to eradicate the disease.

“A prolonged MCO will have far more damage to the country’s well-being than the epidemic itself, given that the death rate is exponentially lower than existing non-communicable diseases or even the common flu.”

Tan warned that “some key mid to long term effects of prolonged MCO are irreversible damage to the country’s fiscal health, loss of reputation as a global supply chain provider, loss of confidence from foreign direct investments, delayed education of future human talent and potential loss of employment for than a million employees”.

He said even China did not do a nationwide lockdown of the economy.

“They only localised the lockdown to the city or location with the highest infections, which we are already practising with the EMCO in various parts of the country.”

Without a robust return to economic activity, Malaysia’s revenue will be starved and would not have the capability of providing sufficient vaccines for significant portions of the population, he said.

“Dishing out misdirected populist cash handouts and encouraging businesses to take up more debt is not a sustainable option in the long run. Wage subsidy programmes will not guarantee sustained employment, as without business revenue, promises of no employment termination will be meaningless,” warned Tan.

“We are of [the] opinion that the MCO should be lifted immediately to let the economy rejuvenate and significant employment assured. This is much better for the nation than fear-induced micro-management of the economy.”

Tan added that post-MCO, there can still be vigilance via border controls and strict adherence to the Health Ministry’s guidelines on social distancing and good health practices.

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