By INS Contributors

KUALA LUMPUR (May 2)--The looming possibility of another movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia’s parts of Malaysia has caused many to vent their frustrations over what they called poor planning and last minute announcements that are taking a toll on the economy.

Some like Mohamad Abdul Sani, who operates a stall in a bazaar in Kuala Lumpur selling a popular snack called roti john, said the government should have better prepared the public for yet another lockdown, the third since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been doing odd jobs since losing my job as a technician last year. It has been difficult but my family and I have been working hard to overcome these difficulties. When I was allowed to set up by stall, I was actually thankful to God for being able to have some way to earn an income.

“But now there is talk that another MCO will be implemented starting Monday. From my experience in the last two MCOs, there will be chaos and confusion as people do not know what the new SOPs will be and when and what time we can operate our stall. Food will be wasted and money will be lost,” the 45-year-old told INS.

Mohamad said if the MCO, which has yet to be announced, comes into force, many others like him would be reduced to begging or appealing for aid as the Ramadan period when bazaars normally flourish, is one of the few opportunities to make up for lost income.

“We cannot travel from one state to another. We cannot ‘balik kampung’ (return to the hometown) and now if we cannot earn a living, what is left for us? The situation is desperate. If there is going to be an MCO they (the government) should have told us earlier. I would not have spent my money stocking up.”

A restaurant owner from the Ampang district of Kuala Lumpur who declined to be named also expressed frustration over the ‘last-minute lockdown’ saying the government, headed by Prime Minister Muhtiddin Yassin, should be better prepared and organised after facing the pandemic since last year.

“This is not new. COVID-19 has been around since last year. We had two other lockdowns and many had to close shop or suffer extreme financial losses as there were no clear guidelines. By the time the dust settled it was too late for many businesses,” he said.

“It is either stupidity, incompetence or a total lack of understanding on the part of this government. When the cases started to get high they should have said a lockdown is being planned and instructed the people to prepare accordingly,” he said adding that he would suffer several thousand ringgit of losses per day due to having stocked up on food items that could not be stored long term.

Malaysia first implemented its MCO on March 18 to April 28 last year which saw cases almost reduced to zero after several months but following a controversial state election in the northern Borneo state of Sabah, cases again spiked.

Another surge of cases earlier this year led to a second lockdown from Jan. 11 to March 5 after which restrictions were again relaxed.

But the start of Ramadan and the return of its iconic bazaars, food stalls often grouped by the hundreds have seen a spike in cases, going from just over 1,00 per day to nearly 4,000 on Saturday prompting talk of another MCO being imposed, mainly due to large crowds and poor compliance with anti-COVID19 measures.

Critics have decried the government's lack of preparedness as cases continue to mount, and unclear guidelines and, poor enforcement of SOPs and various other administrative factors as having led to the spiraling number of cases.

Also blamed have been unregulated social events, the reopening of schools and places of worship, with several clusters involving thousands of positive cases traced to these sources.

Critics have also taken aim at the slow and often opaque nature of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program, which has seen only 552,862 people receiving their vaccine since the program was launched on Feb. 24.