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PENANG, May28, 2021–At its latest meeting chaired by the Special Investment Advisor to the Chief Minister of Penang, Dato’ Seri Lee Kah Choon, the members of Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council have unanimously agreed, among others, the following efforts to support the government in overcoming the challenges as a result of the Covid pandemic:

Mass Vaccinationfor economic frontliners:

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has introduced a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Immunisation Model, allowing companies with over 1,500 employees to set up on-site Vaccination Centres or Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPVs).The government will bear the costs ofthe vaccines while the logistic and medical personnel expenses, will be incurred by the private sector.

In this regard, Dr David Lacey, the president of FREPENCA (Free Industrial Zone, Penang, Companies’ Association)said that: “FREPENCA is supportive onMITI’s PPP Immunisation Model. Our members can coordinate and facilitate the efforts on the ground but we hope that relevant ministries can expedite the roll out of this program.”

Small and Medium Enterprises Association (SAMENTA) also welcomed this initiative to vaccinate the economic frontliners. However, Mr Yeoh Seng Hooi, Hon. Secretary General of SAMENTA pointed out that SMEs would not be able to meet the 1,500-employee criteria and they will be left out from the PPP model. “As SMEs employ about 50% of the total workforce in the manufacturing sector, these workers need to be vaccinated to make the PPP Immunisation program meaningful.” Yeoh said. “SAMENTA hopes that SMEs would beable to join the Mass Vaccination Program initiated by the State and larger companies.”

Deep Throat Saliva (DTS) rt-PCR Screening mass screening for factory workers:

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Penang initiated the Penang S.A.F.E. program with the support of the Penang State Government, approved Clinics and Clinical Lab, to provide DTS rt-PCR screening solutions for factory workers. This initiative is to enhance surveillance efforts via periodical mass-screening of workers at affordable cost with the overarching objective of identifying and isolating infected persons as early as possible.

Dato’ Jimmy Ong, Chairman of FMM Penang Branch said: “DTS rt-PCR screening is a cost-effective solution to contain the spread of Covid in Penang. FMM hopes that more companies will participate in this program in a collective effort with the government in battling the COVID pandemic at the work place and in the community.” “I am encouraged that the responses have been promising thus far” Jimmy added.

During the press conference, Mr Andy Lee, Chairman of the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) mentioned that: “AMMI is encouraged with Penang State Government’s support in the vaccination of the population of the state. In ensuring expeditious role out, AMMI hopesto see greater collaboration & coordination between all stakeholders to empower Healthcare professions to manage the set-up of more PPV centers especially to be ready for mass vaccination. As Covid-19 vaccination is an employee’s personal choice and AMMI Member Companies will continue to encourage its employees to step forward for vaccinations at the first opportunity.”

On a separate note, FMM Penang is of the view that setting upcentralized PPVsat state-owned assets in Penang Island and Seberang Perai would be helpful for the industry. Addressing that, FMM Penang has gathered itsmembers’ interests to register for the centralized PPVs. “Based on our Batch 1 closing date on 20th May 2021, more than 35,000 employees have registered their interests.” said Dato’ Jimmy.“We will continue to work closely with the State government and gather more registrants.We wish to have better clarity from the Federal government on the timeline for vaccine availability.”

ThePenang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Councilis a joint effort between the State government and the industry associations. The keyobjectivesofthe Councils are:

  • Enhancing the ease of doing business in Penang
  • Collective efforts to identify companies’ strength and capabilities and to promote Penang’s industrial ecosystem
  • An integrated voice for the industry

Other than addressing Covid-related issues,the Council has also identified various scopes for collaborations among the members, which include development of talent pool, improving on community welfare of industrial workers and meeting standards of accommodation and amenities and collaboration of supply chain sourcing.

The Council is chaired by the Chief Minister of Penang, Right Honourable Mr. Chow Kon Yeow,with InvestPenang beingits secretariat.