THE Penang government and Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow are prepared to face any legal action for protecting the people of Penang.
“The state government and I are ready to face any legal action for protecting 1.8 million people in Penang.
“The Federal Government has implemented the conditional movement control order (CMCO) on May 4. On the same day, Industrial Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali told that any state that did not comply with the CMCO may be sued by the affected industry players.
“I want to say that the Penang government and I are prepared to face the legal action. However, the senior minister must prove that Penang ignored the CMCO before any legal action is taken.
“The senior minister must also correct his own statement on the National Security Council (MKN) special meeting on Covid-19 management on April 28, chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin; which he claimed that there was a consensus at the meeting on April 28,” Chow told the public via Facebook Live today.
Chow said the Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers were given a briefing during the April 28 meeting on why the economy has to be resumed.
“The Prime Minister was very excited to restart the economy, but we were told that the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the various ministries had not been finalised.
“It was then the Mentris Besar and the Chief Ministers requested for at least a week to study the completed SOP, to present our views and to prepare for the implementation of the CMCO.
“It was decided that the SOP would be finalised on April 30 and the state governments would be given the chance to provide their views.
“However, this never happened and instead, the Prime Minister went ahead on May 1 to announce that the CMCO would be implemented from May 4.
“I must put on record that no state government, including Penang, objected to the CMCO at the meeting on April 28. We wanted time to strategise its implementation,” he said.
Chow said that Penang had never objected to the initiative to restart the economy under the CMCO.
“I convened a State Security Special Committee (JKKN) emergency meeting on April 30 to deliberate and report the latest development to the committee members.
“When the Prime Minister made his announcement on May 1, I responded immediately via a social media statement, welcoming the decision and pledged Penang’s cooperation to restart the economy successfully.”
Chow said that he also instructed the Penang Security Special Committee (JKKN) director to hold an emergency meeting on May 2 to discuss the Prime Minister’s announcement which was made on May 1.
“However, we were told that the SOP for the various ministries was not ready. We held a meeting on May 3, after receiving most of the SOP (and not in its entirety).
“It is therefore unprecedented for so many states to take different approaches from what Azmin had expected.
“What was the senior minister expecting when he, as the minister in-charge, was so lazy to engage with all the state governments to reach a consensus on the implementation of the CMCO,” he said.
Chow said the JKKN meeting on May 2 was attended by the Federal Government’s representative Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Mansor Othman and State Opposition Leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor.
“The JKKN took four hours to deliberate before unanimously endorsing my proposal to implement the Penang Gradual Recovery Strategy.
“The meeting took into consideration the advice by Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on May 2; that the ‘first week of the CMCO which begins on May 4 must be used by the employers and workers to plan their strategies and make necessary preparation, and not necessary to open doors for business immediately’.
“In essence, the state’s good regulatory practice is fully in compliance with the CMCO by phasing it into three stages – Preparation (May 4 to 7), Familiarisation (May 8 to 12) and Opening (from May 13).
“The preparation phase is to allow sectors to get ready the implementation of the SOP, while the familiarisation phase is the opening of most permitted economic activities to enable them and the public to slowly adapt to the SOP and the new norms.
“The opening phase from May 13 is for all the permitted sectors under the CMCO to operate.
“Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia in terms of geographical size. However, we are also the one with the highest population density.
“We have opted for a gradual exit strategy and not a sudden approach.
“This is to protect the lives of the people without compromising their economic livelihood,” he said.
Chow hoped that the senior minister would not intimidate the various state governments but to respect them as his strategic partners in putting the country back on the road to economic recovery.
“We want to work towards economic recovery. Azmin Ali, you decide whether you want to work together with us!” Chow said.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Alissala Thian