KUCHING, Oct 7: Government and political leaders, with expected higher duty of care, must walk the talk to show they take seriously all Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) before demanding likewise from the rakyat.
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) general secretary J Solomon emphasised that this was crucial to retain public confidence in the government’s efforts to stem the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The government can achieve this by applying the Covid-19 laws and regulations evenly, without fear or favor. The leaders must also provide full transparency and not gloss over the extend of Covid-19 spread in the country,” he asserted in a media release today.
According to NUBE’s feedback, he said it showed that the fear of contracting Covid-19 has significantly increased, not just among bank employees, but also in all other strata of the workforce due to the spike of positive cases.
“Our leaders must show willingness to be more accountable and responsible in adhering to Covid-19 SOP. The rules that apply to the rakyat must also be enforced on political leaders.
“Only then, the leaders will have the credibility and support of the people if the government is forced to impose stricter measures to contain any further spread of Covid-19,” he added.
This call came after Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri tested positive for Covid-19 which led to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, along with other Cabinet members and senior government officers, being forced to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Solomon thus welcomed Muhyiddin’s assurance that government leaders will not be given any special treatment nor exemption from SOP on quarantine or swab tests.
While Zulkifli had apologised for any shortcomings on his part, Solomon however stressed that the government and Health Ministry must also own up if there were any delays in imposing mandatory self-quarantine on those who travelled to Covid-19 hot spots such as Sabah.
“The government must immediately plug any leaks that seemingly allow people to evade crucial SOPs, especially those who had visited hot spots, irrespective of whether they are tourists or politicians.
“Workers, including NUBE members, do not want a second round of Movement Control Order (MCO) as it would strike an even more devastating blow on the economy and worsen the unemployment situation,” he said.
As such, Solomon emphasised that the government and employers must do more to break the infection chain by showing more resolve and commitment to provide a safer environment for workers as well as the public.
He urged the government to step up checks to ensure strict SOP compliance in all areas, sectors and workplaces including worker hostels while employers must also check on the travel history of their employees who go on holidays.
“Banks need to be stricter in ensuring clients wear face masks and practice social distancing in their branches. This is applicable not just for over the counter services but also when clients use ATMs.
“While many banks have done much to enforce the SOP, some branches remain complacent, therefore risking the health of their employees and clients,” he cautioned.
Solomon pointed out that the current spike in Covid-19 cases presented a grave threat to the country’s fragile economy as well as an increased risk to public safety and health.
The continued uptick of positive cases, he observed, will stifle the considerable progress achieved thus far in Malaysia’s battle against the pandemic.
“As such, we must not give way to complacency in defeating the deadly pandemic or the country will pay a heavy price.
“The government and employers must raise their game and do all they can to contain the pandemic as this will inevitably help elevate public support and their compliance with SOP to help flatten the Covid-19 curve once again.
“Employers must be legally and morally responsible in providing adequate protection for their workers and customers. By doing so, the government, employers, workers and the general public can effectively help contain the spike in infections and avoid another crushing nationwide MCO,” he added.