In a TikTok video, a woman blamed the soar in Selangor’s COVID-19 cases on Top Glove, alleging it forced its employees to work despite the EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) enacted throughout most of the state.
She will be probed under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code, for possibly fear-mongering and spreading fake news as she has not cited any evidence to back up her statements.
Citizens who disseminate false information on COVID-19 or the Emergency Ordinance may face a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years under the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 which took into effect from 12 March 2021.
However, her allegations were nothing short of bold as she claimed 1,500 employees were transferred by the rubber glove manufacturer from their dedicated residences in Sungai Way into two Klang hotels, namely Hotel Goldcourse and Hostel Histana. She added that moving arrangements were being made for 400 more employees.
Nazilah Idris, the supposed chairman of a Selangor non-governmental organisation (NGO) said several employees lost their lives due to the virus a few days prior, causing the hostel to be marked as an EMCO area. She implies that the workers’ housing area was a breeding ground for the virus.
The so-called hostel deaths allegedly prompted Top Glove to take swift action to move their employees so they could continue working at the factories in Meru, which were also said to be operating at full capacity. She referred to Top Glove as predators and demanded for legal action to be taken against them as she insisted they were perpetuating the spread of the virus. The TikTok video ended with her imploring police, the Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN) and the Selangor MB to investigate.
Police have also launched two investigations against the world’s largest glove manufacturer, under Section 269 for negligence which could increase virus transmissions and Section 22(b) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 for going against orders issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH), respectively.
Top Glove has been in the news for the wrong reasons. In 2020, it was revealed that the glove-maker sacked an employee for leaking images that depicted crowded working conditions, a clear indication of the company violating social distancing guidelines.
Channel 4 in the UK also released an exposé last year on detailing the harsh, inhumane conditions factory workers were subjected to – including forced labour, unlawful payment retention, as well as passport confiscation.
In fact, Top Glove was charged earlier in March for failing to provide appropriate housing for its employees, in which the glove maker pleaded not guilty. There was also a report in May where US authorities seized RM2.8 million worth of disposable rubber glove on account of forced labour indicators.
Top Glove reported a net profit of RM2.87 billion in the second quarter of 2021 which is a 2,380% increase from last year’s Q2 numbers. This can be likely attributed to the skyrocketing demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) which is a necessary tool in weathering the pandemic, though the company cites production efficiency and higher average selling prices as the reasons for the profit surge.
Selangor has been garnering the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases by state, with 13 new clusters reported since the beginning of July. It is worth noting that a vast majority of the clusters are from factories, with 138 active clusters as of July 4. Selangor saw a total of 31,351 cases over a 14-day time period between 21 June to 4 July.