KUALA LUMPUR (June 16): The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has criticised the government for not making it clear how it plans to achieve the four-stage National Recovery Plan and its targets.
In a statement today, the think-tank also argued that the three indicators used for the plan are insufficient, and that the government should instead take inspiration from the Pandemic Severity Index system which IDEAS had previously proposed.
Other important indicators brought up by IDEAS include a seven-day average of new cases instead of the number of daily cases, positivity rate (percentage of positive tests out of total tests performed), the R0, and case fatality rate (death rate).
IDEAS chief executive officer Tricia Yeoh said the plan — Putrajaya's exit strategy from the Covid-19 crisis — ultimately requires more substance.
"Measuring the capacity of public health facilities is a good move, but the government did not disclose what 'moderate' and 'sufficient' mean. There needs to be greater transparency in how the indicators are measured as we move from phase to phase," she said.
“I am more disappointed by the fact that the plan does not include any measures towards economic recovery, which should have been the greater priority. If the economy is expected to fully open up only in October, we are talking about three more months of economic distress for an already severely weakened economy.
"Given the seriousness of the situation, it would do the government well to clarify why they only intend to open parliament during the CMCO phase. I reiterate the call to reconvene Parliament immediately,” she added.
As part of the solution, IDEAS called for mass, frequent and affordable testing to be rolled out nationwide, in order to gain a more accurate reflection of the actual infection rates now, rather than intentionally testing less in order to get lower daily case rates.
Noting that the pandemic is likely going to last for several years, the think-tank called for the government together with the private sector and civil society to realistically consider how to manage a pandemic should new strains emerge while ensuring the economy does not literally collapse.
"Since the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each phase will be laid out by the government soon, it is imperative that said SOPs are transparent and accurate. Without these measures, IDEAS warned that Malaysia will be stuck in lockdown mode for several years to come, which would no doubt have dire consequences on the economy as well as education," it said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled the National Recovery Plan comprising four phases of exit strategy to help Malaysia bounce back from the pandemic.
Each phase of the recovery plan will be based on three main threshold indicators for the country to move from one phase to the next.
The indicators are Covid-19 infection rate in the community based on the number of daily cases of infection, the capacity of the public health system based on bed utilization rates in the ICU wards, and the level of protected population based on the percentage of people that has completed two doses of vaccine injection.
According to this plan, all economic sectors are expected to be allowed to operate by the end of October 2021.