THE conditional movement control order (CMCO) which took effect on May 4 was supposed to be meant for only green zones instead of all zones, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
He said this was, however, not announced by the Federal Government and places even with red zones, like in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, were also opening up their economy.
This revelation by Chow seemed to surprise hosts of “consider this” programme on Astro Awani, Melisa Idris and Sharaad Kuttan, who both interviewed the Chief Minister over Skype today.
Asked by Sharaad whether he would be happy if they, who are now living in the red zones in Selangor, visit Penang’s green zones, Chow said he would leave it to Putrajaya to decide on this.
“The opening up of the economy would encourage human interactions and other businesses. It should begin with the green zone where it is safer for the economy to restart.
“But as it is, it is now for the whole country. And I don’t think I am in a position to answer you. Maybe, you should ask the Senior Minister (Datuk Seri) Azmin Ali why it was also launched in states which have many red zones,” Chow replied.
He said during the National Security Council meeting on April 28, the Health Ministry called for the implementation of a ‘District Risk Reduction Programme’ with the tagline – Attack the red, protect the green.
That means, Chow said, for those at the green zone, they still have a responsibility to ensure it remains green and not turn to yellow, orange and red while concerted efforts should be made to attack the red areas to make it become orange, yellow and then green.
Green zones are areas with no Covid-19 cases, yellow zones with one to 20 cases, orange zones 21 to 40 cases and red zones 41 or more cases.
The CMCO was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on May 1 for almost all economic sectors to resume business, subject to conditions and standard operating procedure starting on May 4.
But activities that involve mass gathering and exposing the public to the risk of being infected with the coronavirus are still not allowed.
Muhyiddin had said the nation was losing about RM2.4 billion daily during the MCO, with total losses estimated at about RM63 billion until May 1.
For Penang, Chow said the state government was opting for a ‘Penang Gradual Recovery Strategy’ in three stages with the last phase beginning on May 13 for full opening of all permitted sectors under the CMCO.
At the start of the interview, Melisa straight away dived in and asked Chow why he called Azmin “lazy to engage with all the state governments to reach a consensus on the implementation of CMCO”, the Chief Minister said he “used this language because he (Azmin) did not bother to do so”.
“If he was expecting a consensus, he must work with all of us to get the consensus. But probably if he was not lazy, he was too busy to talk to the various states to see how we feel, how do we want to implement it and make it happen,” Chow replied.
Chow added that some of the Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers were puzzled when the CMCO was brought forward abruptly to begin on May 4, without Putrajaya first getting the feedback from every state government as initially agreed.
But he said nobody objected to CMCO despite that because they wanted to strike a balance between lives, public health issue and economic issue.
“We adopted a gradual recovery protocol. If we have been given the opportunity, probably what we announced for Penang would be shared with the minister and he may think that it is a template that other states can follow. Who knows?
“I think we came out with a reasonably well recovery plan and if it is good enough, the minister can consider sharing it with other states. This is the gradual exit strategy that we should adopt compared to the big bang approach, “Oh, I want it on the fifth (of May), everybody has to follow without considering their capacity and circumstances in every state.
“I think there is a misconception that we are not abiding by the CMCO. But what we are gradually doing, it is still under the CMCO regime and protocol. And whoever is responsible for enforcement will have to do it, whether we go with the big bang approach or otherwise.”
Chow also fielded other questions, including the Covid-19 impact on the state’s manufacturing and services, particularly on the tourism sector.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhammad