MIRI: The Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance Package which was announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on March 23 is well-received by most Sarawakians, who hope the details could be ironed out to ease its implementation.
The Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sarawak (Acccis) president, Lee Khoi Yun, when contacted by The Borneo Post, said the special aid is a good policy that covers some of the important areas that need much assistance at this time.
“The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has hit the economy not just in Malaysia, but also globally. The initiative by the state government shows its care for its people and we appreciate the effort,” Lee said in lauding the initiative.
Pointing out one of the measures is injecting funding for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the intention of help the latter expand and sustain their businesses, as well as other related measures, Lee said that it is important to draw out the details such as where, when, who and how to apply for it in three different languages, so that all Sarawakians could understand it thoroughly.
Deferment of loan repayment particularly bank loans, house and car mortgage including reducing the interest rates could effectively reduce the borrowers’ financial burden, Lee added.
“Deferment means we can delay the loan repayment for several months, but the interest is still adding up. At the end of the day, the interest accumulated from the deferment period will cause burden to the borrowers too,” said Lee.
Acknowledging that the shortage of face masks is a global crisis, Lee is looking forward to the arrival of two million face masks which is said to cost the state government almost RM3 billion.
“Countries around the world face the same problem. Viewing from the manufacturing level, the government’s ceiling price of RM2.00 is actually logical as the cost of making one face mask already exceeds RM1.50 without the logistic and shipping fees. Even so, we do hope that the government could look into the matter, as priority on health should be put ahead of other issues.”
Youth advisor of the Federation of Chinese Associations Miri Division, Donny Koo, commented that the package is beneficial to front liners, employees and SMEs but had left out the small-time businesses.
“I had discussed this programme with my friends, most of them managing their own small business. We shared similar view that the programme did not have any effect on us, except for cheaper utility bills.
“During the MCO period, we are unable to operate our business, therefore no income. But we still have to worry about payment of shop rental and car loan on top of other expenses. There are far more problems that we have to face during this outbreak,” said Koo.
Voicing his concern on the rising cases of theft at shophouses, Koo believes the perpetrators could have acted out of desperation.
“I believe they (thieves) are forced to do so, because they are left with no choice, as they don’t have any income during this time. The chain reaction is affecting everyone and the impact will become even more obvious in the next three months.”
SUPP Piasau Youth chief Tan Lik Jin lauded the package, especially the incentive for front liners who have been working extremely hard during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Medical personnel, police, army, immigration staffs and Rela personnel are some of the people who have to leave their family behind, risking their life to take care of others. The incentive shows the appreciation for their hard work and is an encouragement too.”
These as well as other measures that have been announced to benefit Sarawakians and to stimulate the economy need to the implemented as soon as possible with clearer details, Tan pointed out.
“The government has the responsibility to calm its people through policies. Fear will only cause more harm that could hurt the country and its people even more,” said Tan.
Kapitan Jee Kee Hiong hopes the state government will get into the details, on who are eligible for these benefits, which department is responsible for handling applications and appeal cases, which should be clearly defined in three languages – Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia and English.
“Like other policies, the Chinese community often refer to us for further explanation. We do hope we can help the people in all possible ways.”
Jee also expressed concern on the wellbeing of the front liners, particularly the medical personnel, who are in dire need of extra helping hands.
“Incentive is good, but it is even better with more staffs,” said Jee.
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