MALAYSIA is on track to achieve the targets set out under the National Recovery Plan (NRP), which underlines efforts to take the country out of the health and economic crises brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Based on the progress of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP), academician Dr Chandra Muzaffar was upbeat that the country could achieve one of the three targets under the NRP, which was having a majority of the population administered with complete doses of the vaccines by October.
“If there are no extraordinary events (such as the emergence of new Covid-19 variants) this month, Insyallah (God willing), we can achieve the target,” Chandra, who is also a political analyst, said in an interview recently.
He added that the NRP, which was formulated based on science and facts, outlined clear threshold indicators that needed to be achieved to steer the country out of the pandemic-induced crises.
“The NRP is a clear plan that can be easily understood by the people. They can understand the target that is needed to be achieved for the country to move into the next phase under NRP.”
Apart from efforts from the government, he said, the success of the NRP hinged on the participation and support of the people.
“The programmes are suitable (to take the country out of the crises caused by the pandemic).
“However, the success of such programmes depends on the participation and support from the people,” he said.
Nevertheless, Chandra noted that the NRP had received encouraging support from the people.
This was reflected in the participation of the people in the national inoculation drive.
“According to some surveys, Malaysia is among the countries which has seen high participation among the people in our national vaccination drive.
“This showed that the people are united in achieving the targets set out under the NRP. It also showed that the NRP is en route to success,” he said.
Chandra, however, said it was important for the government to continue improving its communication on the NRP.
Apart from managing the public health system’s response to Covid-19, he said, managing public perception was especially important following the prevalence of new coronavirus variants such as the highly contagious Delta variant and issues surrounding the efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines.
“We have to continue encouraging the public to support programmes under the NRP, including getting them vaccinated.
“Once we have vaccinated the majority of the population, more economic and social activities can resume. Lives and livelihoods will return to normalcy, perhaps under the new norms, such as continued wearing of face masks in public areas,” he said.
On whether the country required another recovery plan in the event Covid-19 becomes endemic, Chandra said it was too early to tell.
He said this would be decided by the government only in the next few weeks based on the scientific data and facts on the ongoing pandemic.
As of now, he said, the country had made satisfactory progress with most of the states transitioning into the second phase of the NRP after they achieved the threshold indicators assigned for the respective states.
“I think the decision on the matter will be made later on an empirical basis, which it must be based on facts.
“The data will emerge in the course of the next few weeks.
“The progress that we have made is satisfactory despite some challenges and shortcomings here and there. Having said that, we must focus to move forward,” he said.
Instead of formulating another recovery plan, Chandra reckoned that adjustment could be made involving the available threshold indicators under the NRP to prepare the country on the possibility of Covid-19 becoming endemic.
“I believe there will more states that will be allowed to move on to the next phases (under the NRP) in the next few weeks.
“We will have to assess the situation again, whether there is a need to make some adjustments or provide more emphasis on certain dimensions (threshold indicators outlined under the NRP).”
Chandra also said the government could consider allowing businesses in the economic sector to resume operations if they can meet the necessary requirements and conditions as well as implemented measures that could prevent the spread of Covid-19.
These conditions include having a majority of their workers fully vaccinated as well as ensuring strict compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOP), such as implementing physical distancing at the workplace.
Such a move, said Chandra, would enable businesses to stand on their own feet and recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic without totally depending on fiscal assistance from the government.
He said allowing businesses to resume operations would enable them to generate their own economic activities in rising above the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“Instead of continuing with a nationwide lockdown, we should consider implementing more targeted measures, such as a movement control order in a particular area for a certain period of time to curb the spread of the virus.
“This will allow our economy to progress (amid the pandemic),” he said.
He also commended Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for being honest on the fiscal space of the country.