Thursday 26 March 2020

MALAYSIA: Prime Minister Announces Closedown

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on national TV emergency lockdown measures that came into effective 18 March and continue to the end of the month.

Just hours earlier, the Malaysia Travel and Tourism Association’s president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, called on the government to take drastic action and “press the reset button” after the confirmed cases tally soared to 566 at the weekend.

In his TV statement, the Prime Minister said mass events would be cancelled, including cultural, social, sports and religious events. All places of worship and businesses will close, except for markets, supermarkets and shops selling essential goods.

Muhyiddin stated that all Malaysians currently overseas would undergo self-quarantine for 14 days when they returned home. Foreign travellers are barred from entering the country and Malaysians must stop all overseas travel.

Essential services will remain open, such as pharmacies, power plants, telecommunications and transportation facilities.

Malaysia has 566 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of 16 March, with 511 in hospital, and 42 recovered cases.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents is urging the government to declare an all-out war against Covid-19 instead of continuing with protracted battles on a piecemeal basis with no end in sight.

MATTA President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang commented: “An all-out war requires the entire country to be locked down and this is what many European nations have already done, and more countries are expected to follow suit.

The global outbreak of the coronavirus has reached a scale where nations have to take bold and drastic measures.

As of noon on 15 March 2020, 190 new cases were recorded in Malaysia, taking the total number of positive Covid-19 cases to 428. Our initial response to contain the outbreak was successful but no longer so.

Hence, more effective measures are needed, and we could adopt some from overseas, as the novel coronavirus has now spread to over 155 countries around the world.

The lockdown should provide sufficient notice and be clearly spelt out and not perceived as 24-hour curfew, which will result in panic buying and hoarding.

Also, mechanisms must be in place to prevent or reduce unnecessary hardships to the rakyat as well as remaining tourists still holidaying in Malaysia.

As for the tourism industry, there is little left to salvage. It would be better to press the reset button and start all over again on a clean slate by placing hygiene, safety and security as top priorities and restore confidence for holidaymakers.

When our country is all set, Malaysia will be recognised as one of the safest destinations to visit, and Malaysians too would be welcomed in many countries when the situation normalises.

For countries that are proactive in dealing with this crisis, tourism may rebound as fast as it had plunged, while others that take piecemeal actions will somewhat find it difficult to rebound.

He reminded members to heed the many guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, such as adopting social distancing by standing at least a metre away from another individual.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announced earlier that all gatherings, including international meetings, sporting events, social and religious assemblies, would be postponed or cancelled until 30 April.

Instead of endless running battles, it would be better to take the bull by the horns, and it is an opportune time for the new government to rally the people together to fight and win this war.

To rejuvenate our economy, we may have to start with a temporary lockdown, the MATTA chief conjectured.

As it is our moral and social responsibility to place human lives first, all MATTA Fairs scheduled in Kuala Lumpur and various states throughout the country have been deferred until the country return to normalcy.

They include Cuti-Cuti Malaysia By MATTA Fair that will not be held on 4 to 5 April 2020, and MATTA Fair Kuala Lumpur will not be held 1 to 3 May 2020.

He noted that the Malaysia Travel Fair held recently at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre from 13 to 15 March 2020 was organised by a different association registered as Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Malaysia and calling itself as MATA.

It has nothing to do with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) or MATTA Fairs”
, concluded Tan.

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