Local authorities (PBT) in Selangor do not have the power to stop factories from operating despite the current COVID-19 situation, according to a Selangor State Executive Council member
In a statement today, 14 July, state Local Government, Public Transportation, and New Village Development executive councillor Ng Sze Han said that local authorities do not have the necessary power in accordance with the laws currently in force to close factories to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
His statement comes amidst demands for local authorities in the state to exercise their powers to revoke operating licences of factories that continue to operate despite contributing to the daily cases.
"Under Section 107(2) of the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171), it appears to say that every licence and permit issued may be revoked at any time for any reason at all and without recourse. However, it does not allow for this power to be used arbitrarily, but rather in accordance to the conditions and parameters stated in the licence at the time it was issued," he said in the statement.
"This section also does not specify when a PBT may order the closure of factories. The factory operating licence issued by PBTs is only subject to Act 171 in this manner," he added.
Ng went on to state that for public health matters, there is already another act currently in force, through which the government has been enforcing orders of closure and standard operating procedures (SOPs)
"Health matters are enforced through the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), specifically Section 3(1). Since 18 March last year, this act has empowered the government to enforce SOPs, as well as implemented the various Movement Control Orders (MCO) and the Enforced Movement Control Order (EMCO) that is currently in place in Selangor," said Ng.
He explained that even though the Federal government amended Section 2(1) of the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 on 3 March this year, it did not mean the local authorities have the power to order the closure of the factories.
"The amendment was made to enable environmental health officers in PBT areas to help ensure compliance of the SOPs and federal government's instructions," he said.
Despite this impasse, the exco says that there have been efforts to close down errant factories which don't comply with SOPs under 'Ops Patuh'
"According to PDRM, there had been 39,604 inspections conducted under Ops Patuh in Selangor as of 12 July. From this, a total of 768 compounds were issued and 214 premises were ordered to close," he added.
'Ops Patuh' is a nationwide SOPs enforcement initiative launched late last month. It is under the purview of the COVID-19 MCO SOPs Compliance and Enforcement Coordination Committee (JKPS), which is headed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) and counts Selangor PBTs as members.
"These inspections will continue to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 can be controlled as to not overwhelm the healthcare system."
In conclusion, Ng says that the state government is doing everything it can within the constrains of the law, and that its actions are in line with the doctrines of "rule of law" and "fair and equitable treatment".
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