Rafidah pans govt’s Covid-19 exit plan

Ex-minister says losses incurred by shutting down the education and economic sectors not addressed.

Former cabinet minister Rafidah Aziz has criticised the national Covid-19 recovery plan announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin earlier today (June 15) as lacking in strategy.

In particular, she said Muhyiddin’s speech lacked a strategy for helping various sectors move forward in recovering from the pandemic’s impact.

Among the issues she highlighted in her statement today included the lack of plans to address the losses incurred by shutting down the education and economic sectors over the past 15 months or providing more job opportunities such as by introducing tax breaks.

She said there should also be plans to address health-related issues stemming from the stress of the prolonged lockdowns as well as a review of existing laws and legislation based on experiences garnered during the various movement control orders.

“All these must be done in parallel with managing Covid-19,” she said.

She was responding to the Covid-19 exit plan announced by Muhyiddin today in which the premier outlined a four-phased plan for reopening Malaysia’s economy following the lockdown implemented since June 1.

As a precondition for moving from one phase to the next, the country must meet certain thresholds in three areas namely the number of daily Covid-19 cases, the utilisation rate of intensive care units and the percentage of people who have completed their Covid-19 vaccinations.

To move from the current Phase One to Phase Two, for example, the country must have an average of 4,000 Covid-19 cases or less with moderate ICU use and have at least 10 percent of the population completing their vaccination.

Meeting these conditions would allow the government to consider transitioning to Phase Two, which would see some economic sectors reopen but with social sectors remaining closed. The transition is expected to occur in July or August.

Muhyiddin did not define what is meant by “average” daily cases or “moderate” ICU use.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang welcomed the plan and expressed optimism of its success as vaccine deliveries are expected to rise to 16 million doses in July.

“It is hoped that these efforts will reduce Covid-19 infections and alleviate the burden of the people who have been economically affected,” he said in a Facebook post.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, however, expressed concern over using the number of new Covid-19 cases each day as a benchmark.

Bandar Kuching Dr Kelvin Yii

“My concern on using absolute cases as a barometer is that it is, again, very dependent on testing. So unless we adjust the reporting to tests done, then it is a more significant parameter,” he said on Twitter.

He also questioned why Parliament was not considered an essential service in response to Muhyiddin saying Parliament would reopen during Phase Three of the recovery plan.

The preconditions for Phase Three are:

  • Average of 2,000 new Covid-19 cases per day or less.
  • Adequate ICU beds in the public healthcare system.
  • 40 percent of the population have received two doses of a vaccine.

These conditions are expected to be met in early August at the earliest.

Besides Parliament, most businesses will be allowed to reopen during Phase Three except those deemed to have a high risk of Covid-19 transmission.


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