Emergency declaration would hit investors’ confidence, workers’ livelihoods

A declaration of a state of emergency, with whatever scope of enforcement, would have a ripple effect on investors’ confidence and workers’ livelihoods, K Veeriah writes.

Retrenchments, pay cuts, unpaid leave, work from home, deductions of annual leave, and plant closures have been the reality facing workers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic since the movement control order was imposed in March 2020.

Though we are in the last quarter of the year, the situation does not seem to have improved. On the ground, workers are facing the uncertainties of an economic recovery. Downsizing, pay cuts, deductions of annual leave, reduced work days, the deferment of contractual payments and the suspension of annual salary adjustments are the norm.

Whilst workers are making unprecedented sacrifices, we find it disturbing that the government is on a pursuit to enforce a state of emergency, having no consideration to its impact on the prevailing fragile employment conditions.

To recap, the Federation Of Malaysian Manufactures (FMM) had projected a recovery period of up to two years, whereas the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has estimated job losses of about two million resulting from the pandemic.

Those projections were made way, way before the current political manipulation to declare a state of emergency just to ensure the political survival of the government, illegitimate or otherwise.

There can be no denying that a declaration of a state of emergency, with whatever scope of enforcement, would have a ripple effect on investors’ confidence in the nation and, as a consequence, workers’ livelihoods. As someone said, it would be a nail in the coffin of our economy!

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Between the survival of the political establishment and the millions of the nation’s people, good conscience ought to dictate that a state of emergency is not the solution.

As a citizen, I urge His Highness, the King and the rulers, not to resort to declaring a state of emergency for these reasons.

K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress

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