How can Muhyiddin win the trust and confidence of the people in the invisible war against the Covid-19 pandemic when he is even afraid to convene Parliament to debate the pandemic?

On April 7, I hazarded the prognosis that the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia had been reached on April 3rd with 3,333 cases, building on my media statement of March 31 that “there are hopeful signs that JKP Morgan’s grim projection of Malaysia peaking at 6,300 Covid-19 cases by mid-April can be proven wrong”.

I am glad that these prognosis have been proven right.

Even up to now, in the last week of April, we have not reached 6,300 confirmed cases, as we now stand at a total of 5,692 cases, and we may not reach 6,300 cases at the end of the second phase of MCO on April 28.

Yesterday, the Health director-general Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah reported that Malaysia has succeeded in flattening the infection curve and is now in the recovery phase to stamp out the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said based on the examination of the predictive model, where the data on April 3 was 217 new cases, the ministry did not see any further peak since then.

The ministry had initially braced for a peak on April 14 of 6,300 new cases but this figure was not seen.

The MCO has been successful in flattening the curve.

Malaysia is now on a recovery phase not at peak phase and Malaysians share with Noor Hisham the hope to continue the momentum and to make sure to control and reduce cases.

As Noor Hisham warned: “But it is not impossible if there is an exponential surge if we leave our guard down. So it is important to continue to do what we did in MCO 1, 2 and now 3.”

The situation may be significantly better in the third phase of MCO starting on April 29 and it is not being over-optimistic to look forward to the present double-digit daily increase of Covid-19 cases to fall to single-digit and even to days with zero increase.

Malaysia has joined South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and a handful of other countries which have successfully “flattened the curve” before there was an exponential spike in Covid-cases causing devastating and massive deaths like the United States, which has passed 900,000 cases and raging on to one-million figure with a death toll which had passed the 50,000 mark (more than a quarter of global Covid-19 deaths), or the European countries like Spain, Italy, France, United Kingdom and Germany with the continent totalling nearly 1.2 million cases and over 111,000 deaths.

But Malaysians must understand that we have won a battle but not the invisible war against Covid-19 as experts in the United Kingdom are envisaging as many as six waves of the Covid-19 outbreak before an effective vaccine is discovered and available widely or herd immunity to the Covid-19 disease is developed.

The global scientific community largely agree a vaccine for the virus could be found within a 12 months - but others say it could be up to two years. But there is a minority of experts who are of the view that there is no guarantee one will ever be found.

Lockdown measures have led to a sustained and consolidated slowdown in new coronavirus cases, but we must always be on the look-out and always be prepared for any resurgence of the disease until an effective vaccine is developed.

As one of the countries in this fortunate category, we are given the opportunity to find the best exit plan strategy and blueprint, so that we can contain the Covid-19 pandemic and revive the economy, which is suffering unprecedented stress and strain, both nationally and globally.

As I said in my media statement of 8th April 2020, the division of the country by the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health into four coloured zones for Covid-19 infections – red, orange, yellow and green - can be used as a basis for an exit plan strategy for controlled easing of restriction of movement, which is phased and localised.

With the country divided into 148 districts, namely 14 red zones, seven orange zones, 62 yellow zones and 65 yellow zones – the lifting of the restriction of movement should be in phases, starting with the green and yellow zones, which together comprise more than three quarters of the 148 districts in Malaysia.

We should adopt a flexible, nimble and creative approach to map out and implement the best exit plan strategy and blueprint in the post Covid-19 era in the third phase of MCO, but it is essential that such an approach must be based on full public transparency and accountability.

No amount of money or effort can bring back the 96 lives in Malaysia or the 196,971 lives in the world that Covid-19 has already claimed, but we must do our utmost to prevent more fatalities and protect the livelihoods of those suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The government must give top priority to full transparency and accountability which are critical factors for securing full national support for unpopular post-Covid-19 measures. Accountability and transparency must not take a back seat.

There are signs that abuse of power and corruption, which Malaysians have taken a stand rejecting them in the milestone 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, is making a comeback.

One example is the discrimination in the distribution of food aid parcels to Opposition-held constituencies as highlighted by Pakatan Harapan MPs, Tan Kok Wai and Hannah Yeoh.

South Korea has set the gold standard of flattening the curve. The South Korean Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha has attributed South Korea’s success to “absolute transparency” and a government which is open and could secure the trust of the people.

Kang said:

“The key to our success has been absolute transparency with the public – sharing every detail of how this virus is evolving, how it is spreading and what the government is doing about it, warts and all.”

How can the government be assured of such trust and confidence when it even afraid to convene Parliament to discuss the Covid-19 Pandemic?

This is why Parliamentary participation is critical to a successful exit plan strategy and blueprint – and the need for a special parliamentary meeting in April and the presentation of the Covid-19 exit plan strategy and blueprint for approval by Parliament in May.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri