Mystery on what basis a state is placed in a NRP phase is one reason why there is no public confidence in the National Recovery Plan

Yesterday, the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Sarawak, Perlis and Labuan have moved into Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

This was despite Sarawak and Labuan not qualifying for Phase 3 based on the initial criteria which the government set in early July.

The mystery on what basis a state is placed in a NRP phase is one reason why there is no public confidence in the National Recovery Plan, and why a new policy and strategy must be crafted in view of the dismal failures of the strategy, in particular the emergency from January 11 – August 1, which had been employed in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 20 months.

According to the initial criteria set by the government, the seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 cases for Sarawak must be 345 to enter Phase 2, 172 for Phase 3 and 43 for Phase 4.

The seven-day average of new daily Covid-19 cases is now 482.

Sarawak moved into Phase 2 on July 14. At the time, it met the criteria for Phase 2 but had since regressed.

The government's initial criteria for Labuan to move into Phase 2 is a seven-day average of 12 cases, six for Phase 3 and two for Phase 4.

As for Perlis, the criteria include a seven-day average of 31 cases for Phase 2, 16 for Phase 3 and four for Phase 4.

Based on these criteria, only Perlis qualifies for Phase 3.

Under the NRP, Malaysia will only transition to phase 2 once the average number of cases drop to 4,000 cases a day, the health system is no longer at a critical level and intensive care unit capacity is reduced to a moderate level, and 10% of the population is vaccinated.

Under the recovery plan, the country will reopen in four phases based on three indicators: the number of daily Covid-19 cases, the number of vaccinated people and the state of the healthcare system, which must no longer be critical.

In phase 3, the number of daily cases must be below 2,000, 40% of the population vaccinated and the health system at a manageable level.

In phase 4, the daily cases must be below 500, 60% of the population vaccinated, and the health system at a safe level.

But so far, only the criteria on vaccination has been met, and Malaysia has not been able to transition to phase 2 not only at the end of June and July, but even unlikely when we mark our 64th National Day on August 31 and 58th Malaysia Day on Sept. 16.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah has predicted Covid-19 infections to peak in mid-September with 24,000 cases a day.

Parliament would be the proper place for the Muhyiddin government to explain the mistakes and inadequacies of the NRP, and for a new policy and strategy to replace the NRP in keeping with the objective for an “Live with Covid” policy instead of the original “Zero Covid” approach.

But Parliament has been shutdown for two weeks and the Health Director-General has yet to convince Members of Parliament and the Malaysian public that this shutdown is based on science and data and not a political decision of the Muhyiddin government.

But even after the two-week shutdown, will Parliament reconvene in August to complete the Parliament special meeting of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara?

This is why there should be no further delay in an announcement as to when the Parliament special meeting will resume or will Parliament be prorogued until Sept. 6 when the Fourth Session of the 14th Parliament will opened by the Yang di Pertuan Agong?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri