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PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has urged the government to end the Full Movement Control Order (FMCO) with immediate effect to stop causing further damage to the national economy and individual livelihoods.

Its president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the lockdown has had a negative compounding effect on businesses since the MCO 1.0 in March 2020 with many companies being forced to shut down, thus causing higher retrenchments and loss of income.

“There has to be a reasonable balance between the saving of lives and livelihoods. The restrictions under the FMCO and confusion over the SOP are killing businesses with many SMEs and micro enterprises severely impacted,” he said in a statement today.

“Employers are prepared to endure even tighter restrictions under FMCO and even higher penalties for breaking the rules to end the lockdown, but the issue of livelihoods must also be addressed.

“We urge the government to allow all sectors to operate because if the current situation continues, we risk facing very serious economic and social implications for a long time.”

Citing recent distressing reports from the SMEs, manufacturers, retail sectors and Bumiputera entrepreneurs, he said companies in the non-essential sectors could not survive and that thousands would be forced to shut down should the lockdown remain enforced for much longer.

“Some of the micro enterprises and SMEs are suffering to a level beyond recovery and need urgent help,” he said.

“There comes a time when livelihoods must take priority as many people depend on their business. Not only the micro enterprises and SMEs, even the large companies need to operate to survive to meet overhead costs.

“Further, companies that are allowed to operate are also facing serious issues as they depend on their supply chain for supplies, but many of those in the supply chain are not allowed to operate.

“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. We need to open up and provide financial aid quickly.”

Syed Hussain also concurred with the government that Covid-19 may become endemic and that Malaysians would have to learn to live with Covid in the long term, just like the flu and dengue.

“We support the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan and encourage our employees and their families to be inoculated, and in fact the number of people getting the jab is increasing,” he said.

“We also hear from our employees that many of their aged parents (above 60 years) are still

waiting for appointments, and in some cases had yet to receive any date for appointment.

“This creates stress on certain employees which would then impact their work and productivity.

“We suggest that all parents above 60 years be given automatic approval to be vaccinated at the vaccine centres under the senior citizens group.

“MEF commends the government’s untiring efforts to get the rakyat vaccinated by ensuring that there is enough supply that is easily accessible by everyone. “MEF appeals to the government to end the FMCO and focus on livelihood priorities now,” he added.