Datuk Christina Liew at the State Assembly sitting.- Photo by Jabatan Penerangan
KOTA KINABALU: Api Api Assemblywoman Datuk Christina Liew has raised concern over the Government’s delay in reopening the spa industry.
Speaking at the First Meeting of the Second Term of the 16th State Legislative Assembly sitting on Wednesday, she
said operators of spa centres, wellness centres and foot reflexology centres were not allowed to operate when the Government reopened 11 economic sectors, including barber shops and beauty centres, in August this year under the first phase of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).
“Currently, they are still not allowed to reopen their businesses under this second phase of the National Recovery Plan.
“I urge the Government to duly consider the appeal of the Malaysian Association of Wellness and Spa (Mawspa) and Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa) to allow their members to operate but with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the forthcoming third phase of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).
“I appeal to the Government to allow the spa industry to operate from October before the fourth phase of the National Recovery Plan (PPN) begins,” Liew said in her debate speech on the motion of thanks on the government policy speech by the Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.
She questioned why the spa industry is not reopened together with hair salons and beauty centres as their services are similar in that both involve touch therapy.
“I understand that the excuse for not reopening spas and foot reflexology centres at this stage is there is close contact with the client during spa treatment.
“But this is not logical because there is also physical touch with the client in the hair salons and beauty centres, for example, during hair and facial treatment,” she reasoned.
Liew contended that further delay in reopening means further loss of income for operators of spas, wellness centres and foot reflexology centres, and continued unemployment for spa workers.
The Government’s reopening decision, she said, is to be based on operational capacity, the operators’ ability to enforce social distancing and safety guidelines for clients as well as on the vaccination status of employees and customers.
It is understood that the President of Mawspa, Datin Dorothea Justin Moduying had written to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Sabah on the issue in July this year, but to no avail.
Liew, who is a former Deputy Chief Minister, also expressed concern over the rising Covid-19 deaths in Sabah, including those who were fully vaccinated.
Beginning August this year, Sabah has continued to record a high daily mortality figure.
“On September 12, Sabah recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day, with 84 (eighty-four) cases, since the pandemic hit the country last year.
“Although Sabah lately has shown a downward trend in the total number of new Covid-19 cases daily, our state is still among the top five states in the country in terms of the highest number of positive cases daily.
“As of September 21 (Tuesday), Sabah recorded a total of 1949 deaths since the pandemic last year,” she said.
Besides, based on reports, what is worrying is that the COVID-19 Delta variant, which is highly contagious and capable of infecting fully vaccinated people, has landed on our shores, Liew pointed out.
“In this respect, the Federal and State Governments, together with the rakyat, must leave no stone unturned in efforts to stop the Delta variant from taking roots in Sabah. Surely, we do not want to see a Delta variant catastrophe in Sabah,” the Api Api Assemblywoman cautioned.
In view of the surge in “brought in dead” (BID) cases, based on data from the Health Director-General, Liew, who is also Tawau MP, wanted to know whether the Government provided more low-risk quarantine centres for Category 1 patients (without symptoms) and Category 2 patients (mild symptoms) who are forced to undergo self-quarantine at home and thus risk infecting family members.
“Not only that, there is a possibility that their condition will deteriorate and progress to Category 3, 4 or 5 without proper management,” she said, adding there is a need for data transparency.
To stop transmission of the coronavirus, Liew reiterated that strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as safe social distancing, wearing masks and good personal hygiene practices should be inculcated in the community.
“We hope the State Health Department will continue to disinfect and sanitise public areas regularly. In the interest of public health, I also call on the State Government to make regulations for the management of supermarkets, social clubs and other public premises to carry out disinfection and sanitisation regularly,” she said.
Meanwhile, on the Food Basket Assistance Programme, Liew noted that although the Federal Government and the State Government have extended a substantial amount of food aid under this Programme to the people of Sabah affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are continuous complaints that the assistance provided is still not sufficient.
“I suggest that the State Government open up more communication channels for the rakyat to seek help, particularly those in the rural areas, apart from the respective district offices and community development leader units (UPPM),” Liew said.