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Shelve proposed changes to Act 342 to save economy, says FMM

FMM In The News: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, PETALING JAYA, Friday, January 21, 2022 - The country’s main association representing manufacturers has called for the government to shelve the recently proposed amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) indefinitely.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Soh Thian Lai said Malaysia, as a developing country, and with a significant private sector-driven economy, needed progressive policies and laws to stand tall globally.

“Repressive and hostile laws which have not gone through proper regulatory risk impact assessment are going to be very damaging for the economy, especially in the post-pandemic recovery period.

“This period is very critical for businesses and the economy alike,” he said in a statement.

Soh added that policy and lawmakers must be mindful of the risk of new laws which might discourage any new investments or result in the flight of existing and potential investors to more business-friendly destinations.

He also said alleged worksite clusters did not exist but rather the employees brought the infection from external sources.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, industries have been very cautious and have enhanced their fight against the spread of the virus at the workplace, including hostels, at a very unprecedented high cost of health management.

“At the same time, industries are also facing severe business impact but prioritised Covid-19 health management to ensure the workplace will remain safe for their employees,” he said.

Soh urged the government to move away from extreme and threatening measures of high fines and imprisonment.

Instead, he said what required more urgency was more rehabilitative and advisory approaches on how to overcome the disease and infections.

“Any arbitrary and high-handed enforcement provisions will lead to negative and somewhat irreversible results as well as become a breeding ground for corruption and bribery.

“In this regard, FMM welcomes further engagement with the authorities to discuss recommendations for a win-win outcome for both the government and private sector in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and, at the same time, facilitate business and economic recovery,” he said.

Tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last December, the amendments to Act 342 initially proposed a maximum fine of RM1 million on companies and organisations and up to RM10,000 for individuals who flouted Covid-19 SOPs.

Jail terms were also proposed.

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