Anything to cheer Malaysians a week to the 64th National Day on August 31, 2021?

Is there anything to cheer Malaysians a week to the 64th National Day on August 31, 2021?

We are supposed to move into Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan after National Day fulfilling three conditions, namely less than 500 daily Covid-19 cases, sufficient ICU beds available and 60% of adult population vaccinated.

Since the announcement of the National Recovery Plan on June 15, 2021, Malaysia had never achieved the first condition of less than 4,000 daily cases by the end of June, as apart from two days – on June 21 when we had 4,611 cases and June 22 when we had 4,743 cases – we had ranged from 5,150 daily cases on 16th June to 9,353 cases on July 7 before July 12, 2021, and after that from July 13, 2021, we had five-digit cases reaching a peak of 23,564 daily cases on 20th August 2021.

What is clearly established about the National Recovery Plan announced on June 15, 2021 is the fact that in mid-June, those responsible for the war against the Covid-19 pandemic never expected the new daily cases to reach five-digit numbers as they were expecting the new Covid-19 cases to drop to below 500 cases after National Day.

This is an expensive lesson which we must learn, as from June 15, 2021 to now, there had been 925,726 new Covid-19 cases averaging a 13,224 daily cases and 10,484 Covid-19 deaths averaging a daily toll of 150 deaths, instead of daily new Covid-19 cases descending to below 500 cases.

In terms of ICU capacity, the number of ICU patients is still in four digit figures, first reached on July 26, 2021, with active cases achieving its highest peak of 262,713 cases yesterday.

Only the vaccination rate in the National Recovery Plan seems achievable for Labuan (92.4% fully vaccinated), Sarawak (85.4%), Klang Valley (85.2%), Negri Sembilan (72.3%), Perlis (62.4%), while the other states, the vaccination rate lagged far behind – Penang (47.1%), Malacca (46.8%), Terengganu (42.7%), Perak (41.4%), Johore (38.8%), Kedah (38.3%), Kelantan (37.6%) and Sabah (31.4%) - requiring urgent acceleration.

But this is a percentage for the adult population, i.e. 18 years old and above, which accounts for about 70% of the population.

The sorry state of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia urgently demand a new policy, strategy and approach in the war against Covid-19 pandemic which must be “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” – as the country will break the 1.6 million mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases today and set to mark the grimmest 64th National Day in a week’s time with over 1.7 million Covid-19 cases and close to 16,000 Covid-19 deaths, earning for Malaysia the 23rd rank among countries with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

The ninth Prime Minister has come into office with the lowest public expectations but I am prepared to suspend judgement to give him the opportunity to prove the pessimists wrong and that he could create the conditions to develop a national consensus on the challenges facing Malaysia in the next 12 – 18 months and unite all Malaysians in one “Malaysian family”.

The first tests will come when Ismail Sabri announces his Cabinet and his actions before the vote of confidence in Parliament next month.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri