KUALA LUMPUR (May 20): The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) has voiced its opposition to a stricter form of Movement Control Order (MCO), such as when the movement restriction or MCO 1.0 was first implemented nationwide in March last year.

In a statement yesterday, Amcham Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Siobhan Das said such an approach does not take into account the lessons learnt and infrastructure put in place since last year, and would have an immediate negative impact on the already hard-hit local economy.

This will have long and far-reaching repercussions for businesses in the country and their role in global supply chains, Das said.

As such, the chamber of commerce urges the Government to implement best practices from previous MCOs.

But if a lockdown is unavoidable, a negative list should be instituted to ensure intricate ecosystems are intact. This should automatically include manufacturing and support services such as medical devices, electrical and electronics (E&E) including semiconductor, and information and communication technology (ICT) and their supporting SMEs, which are crucial to the country.

In doing so, the mobility of the workforce in these sectors must be allowed to continue under consistent and clear rules, she said.

Das also advocated for businesses to be allowed to self-regulate operation capacity, even if headcount is limited to only 50% on-site at any given time. With no working hour restrictions, companies will be able to implement rotations and split shifts, supporting the needed social distancing and [email protected] bubbles, she said.

On the vaccination front, Amcham strongly urges that preparations be made for the expeditious vaccination of the community as soon as supplies arrive.

The chamber also requested clear and consistent messaging by the Government to avoid any confusion, to enable smooth implementation and enforcement of any standard operating procedures (SOPs).

As example, she cited the opaque methodology behind the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system and the confusion caused by the recent spate of media coverage on Federal versus State government procurement of vaccines. “These examples erode both public and business confidence in Malaysia in handling the pandemic,” Das said.

Additional steps must be taken to showcase the country’s ability to manage its economy and the safety of its people while firmly maintaining its position in global supply chains, she said.

"Advance notice and allowance for scenario planning with clearly set criteria will enable businesses to plan ahead without facing the disruptive task of juggling ever-changing SOPs which update as frequently as on a daily basis. As of 1Q 2021, the country is on the right trajectory for economic recovery. Imposing another lockdown will threaten this positive momentum, negatively impact investment sentiments, and once again call into question Malaysia’s reliability within the global value chains," she added.

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