Anger & frustration over work-related travel permit in Sibu

Irene visiting one of the police stations concerned recently to check on the situation

By John Isaac

PEOPLE in Sibu are angry and frustrated over the latest work-related travel permit required for employees to operate their essential services.

“The policy was obviously hastily put together without much consideration and thought whether it could be properly implemented in such a short period of time,” said Bukit Assek state assemblywoman, Irene Chang.

The policy was implemented on Jan 25 and took effect on Jan 27.

“Though I appreciate the intention of Sibu SDMC in their efforts to contain the raging numbers of positive Covid-19 cases, the latest policy has caused employers to crowd at the few police stations in Sibu.

“There was confusion all round because the guidelines issued last minute by Sibu SDMC were not sufficiently detailed to the applicants and did not coordinate with the policemen on the ground who have to process the applications.

“As a result of this, people were made to go in and out of the police station a few times,” she said.

What made it worse was that different police stations have their own instructions of how the application forms should be filled and what supporting documents were required.

Applicants were totally at the mercy of the officers who were also stressed out from the lack of manpower to carry out the implementation smoothly.

“From what I understood from certain people, the policy was implemented with the purpose of deterring people from opening their businesses and to indirectly force them to stay at home in compliance with the MCO in Sibu.

“If that is true, Sibu SDMC had suffered a backlash when employers thronged the few police stations in rain and shine to get the permit,” she said.

No fault should lie with the police on this as they were not even properly briefed on what is or is not an essential service that is allowed to operate in this MCO.

Sibu SDMC should have provided them with the list, especially in a last-minute policy as this.

And now that Sibu people has suffered miserably for the last two days, in numerous cases, the permit given was only till Jan 29 when the MCO is supposed to expire.

“In the event the MCO is extended, Sibu SDMC should announce that all these permits are extended automatically and should be valid for the duration of the MCO.

“This would avoid another circus at the police stations which had put both police and people at high risk of infections from Covid-19,” said Irene.

A good policy becomes a bad policy when it cannot be implemented properly for the benefit of the people, she added.