Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has today painted a grim picture for Malaysians should another full lockdown is imposed on economic activities like last year, revealing that 2.8 million people may risk losing their jobs.
In his press briefing today, Ismail, who is also defence minister, said that 2.8 million more people also stand to lose their income if another movement control order (MCO) as strict as 2020’s is imposed to tackle Covid-19.
“The B40 group will lose wages in a month, which is estimated to cost RM2.45 billion, with an average of RM2,400 per family,” he said, referring to bottom 40 percent households.
Ismail said that according to a report from the Companies Commission of Malaysia, 13,445 factories have since shuttered since the initial MCO was imposed in March last year.
Malaysia is now under a second, more relaxed MCO dubbed MCO 2.0.
He said the government will thoroughly consider all possible consequences before deciding on the next course of action after the current movement control order (MCO 2.0) expires on Feb 4.
Ismail was addressing speculations which are rife on social media of a possible total lockdown after an internal circular by the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham) was leaked to the public recently.
Ismail noted that Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had hinted about replacing the current MCO with a conditional MCO next month.
However, the minister reiterated that nothing was set in stone until the National Security Council meets before Feb 4.
Between March and October 2020, 13,445 companies had permanently closed their operations due to the MCO, he added.
On appeals by certain businesses such as barbers, night market traders and car wash operators to be allowed to resume operations, Ismail said the matter will be discussed in a meeting in the near future.
“We will consider each suggestion as best as we can,” he said.
Asked on why certain non-essential services are allowed to operate when other small traders are not allowed resume business, Ismail brushed off the question by saying that only essential services are allowed.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s hypermarket, shopping mall or roadside stall, the standard operating procedures are the same.
“I hope the public can file a report with the authority (if there’s a breach of SOPs) so action can be taken,” he said.
Previously, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak had raised the issue of big furniture companies, popular goldsmith chains and a US lingerie boutique being allowed to stay open during the MCO 2.0.