By NELSON W ANGANG
COMMENT: How did the Federal government come to the decision to the more relaxed conditional movement control order (CMCO) that started on Monday (04.05.202)? Have the federal government made an informed decision of the situation in all the respective states?
Take Sabah for example. The Ministry of Health had admitted that the testing for Sabah and Sarawak is challenging. The health DG in his statement which was reported in the news said that the state of Sabah and Sarawak are vast and that the testing are more challenging in announcing that the first batch of 50,000 antigen rapid test kits from South Korea would likely be sent to Sabah and Sarawak to help boost Covid-19 testing in both the states.
Bearing in mind also of the huge numbers of immigrants’ community in Sabah. It has also been reported that Sabah has expressed doubts that they have enough reagents to carry out tests on the estimated 100,000 foreign workers in the state. The Health Ministry has sent 10,000 rapid test kits received from South Korea to Sabah only last week.
How then did the federal government made the decision that Sabah is ready for CMCO? Have the Federal Government accurately considered the situation in Sabah and on all the other respective states before making a blanket decision of making the CMCO throughout the country?
Now the decision of the State government in not complying with the CMCO is being questioned. Some legal expert says that the state must follow federal decisions on the matter whilst others believe that the State can chose not to abide the federal CMCO because the state have control over public health and the prevention of disease amongst others.
Of course, the argument that federal laws supersede state laws where there are inconsistencies is well settled. But perhaps it is actually beyond all the legal arguments. After all the respective state government would know best the current situation and readiness of the state.
Everyone understand the importance to restart back our economy but it must be done right. Sabah for example has ease the restriction gradually such as the restriction on oil palm plantations and mills, petrochemical industries food industries and few others.
Rather than issuing threats towards these state governments to comply with the CMCO or face the risk of legal action, the federal government should instead find out why these states are not ready to enforce the CMCO. There must be valid reasons why the 9 states refused to enforce for now the CMCO. Was there discussion by the federal government with the respective states when the decision was made?
These are unprecedented times. The challenge of covid-19 posed is not only towards our country but also towards the whole world. Article 81 of the federal constitution talks about the obligation of the States towards the federation and that Art 81(2) hold that the state shall not impede or prejudice the executive authority of the Federation. But truly under this circumstances, if the state of Sabah felt that it would be against its best interest and the interest of the people of Sabah to enforce CMCO when the state are not ready and being forced to do so, would it not be prejudicial and endanger the safety and health that of its people? For this reason i agree with the decision of the state government in not enforcing yet the CMCO.
Perhaps the Federal government could reconsider its decision of implementing the CMCO towards all the states but instead consider whether each respective states is prepared and ready for it.
NELSON W ANGANG is the Secretary General of United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO)