PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) and the Federation of Malaysian Fashion, Textile and Apparel (FMFTA) are stepping up to fill a critical gap in the supply chain for key personal protection equipment (PPE) in Malaysia.

MPMA has been working with its members to repurpose their machines to overcome a global shortage of non-woven material which is needed to make the much-needed PPEs, while working with members of FMFTA in the production process to sew the jumpsuits, isolation gowns, head covers, and boot covers.

“In such times of crisis, non-woven material, both coated and uncoated, has become difficult to source. This is exacerbated by disruptions in the supply chain caused by the infrequency of flights and ships plying between Malaysia and other countries,” said Datuk Lim Kok Boon, MPMA President.

“We in Malaysia can no longer depend on supply from other countries. Hence, we have worked with our members to repurpose their machines and reallocate their resources, even at the expense of foregoing their normal business to ensure that these materials are available here.

“We are pleased with the support of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which has allowed these companies to operate in order to fulfil the country’s needs for the materials that are required to produce the PPEs.”

Lim said MPMA and FMFTA want to ensure Malaysia has enough local capacity to be self-sufficient and not have to depend on external sources which may be unreliable currently.

Samples have been made and sent for approval to the Ministry of Health (MOH) which has specific functional and safety requirements. Certain PPEs must have liquid repellent properties to prevent penetration of body fluids, blood and other biological material, that may harm the frontliners.

Non-woven materials for such types of PPEs must therefore be coated or laminated with a plastics film.

“More than 10 factories have been identified by FMFTA and the two main textile manufacturers under its umbrella, Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association (MTMA) and Malaysian Knitting Manufacturers Association (MKMA), as having the sizeable capacity to mass produce PPEs from the materials provided by MPMA members,” said FMFTA President, Dato’ Seri Tan Thian Poh.

“More factories can be brought onboard should there be a need to further increase capacity.”

All member companies will ensure that the production of the PPEs conforms with MOH’s requirements. Once MOH provides its specifications and approvals, FMFTA members will be able to ramp up their production.

FMFTA will also facilitate the supply of approved material to NGOs and other business organisations which are keen to make and contribute PPEs. Interested organisations can contact Ms Regina Leong, FMFTA Secretary General, at

Members of MPMA and FMFTA have also committed to a contribution of about RM1 million worth of other types of PPEs to MOH as well as to hospitals. These include face shields, jumpsuits, disposable head covers, clinical waste bags, plastic sheets and films, and plastic aprons.