Masing: No ‘one-size-fits-all’ Covid-19 recovery, let Sarawak and Sabah decide path forward

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

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KUCHING, July 6: The federal government must allow Sarawak and Sabah to chart their own Covid-19 exit strategy because the National Recovery Plan (NRP) is not a one-size-fits-all path for when and how states can reopen their economies.

In highlighting this, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing emphasised that the recovery plan must take into account the size of a State, the State’s trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as resources, capacity and challenges.

“The federal government’s NRP reflects Peninsular Malaysia leaders’ ignorance on the size of Sarawak. A state in Peninsula Malaysia is the same, if not smaller, than a district in Sarawak,” he said in a statement today.

While the NRP provides helpful starting points and indicators to removing restrictions, Masing however pointed out that each state has experienced the pandemic differently and thus, it is better for states to coordinate their own exit strategy on the same plan rather than having one plan for the entire country.

“The federal government must allow Sarawak and Sabah to chart their own course of recovery post-Covid-19. It is not one size fits all when planning includes Sarawak and Sabah,” he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on Sunday (July 4) said that the Sarawak government will request the federal government to assess the domestic Covid-19 situation based on each district rather than as a whole State in order for a district to transition into the next phase of NRP.

With 40 districts in Sarawak, he pointed out, there were districts like Limbang and Lawas which have already met the National Security Council (NSC)’s assessment benchmark or thresholds to move into Phase 2 of the NRP.

Federal Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has also announced that five states in Peninsular Malaysia, namely Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Terengganu and Perlis, will ease into Phase 2 of the NRP after they have fulfilled the three indicators from July 5 onwards.

Under Phase 1 of the NRP, three key conditions must be met including getting daily Covid-19 cases to drop below 4,000, the rate of bed use in intensive care units (ICUs) returning to ‘moderate’ levels, and 10 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

During this phase, only essential services are allowed to operate such as food and beverage (F&B), health and medical care, water, energy, transportation and logistics, finance, media and communications, e-commerce, and hotels and accommodation (for the purpose of quarantine and isolation).

Once the conditions have been met, Malaysia can transition into Phase 2 where some sectors in the economy which do not involve large gatherings will be allowed to reopen in accordance with existing standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Before easing into the next phase, daily Covid-19 cases have to drop below 2,000, there should be ‘sufficient’ ICU beds available, and 40 per cent of the population must be fully vaccinated.

In Phase 3, almost all economic sectors will be allowed to operate with strict SOPs together with limited physical presence in the workplace. The social sector will reopen gradually, and Parliament and schools will reopen.

To transition into Phase 4 where Malaysia will see full reopening of the economy including the social sector, Malaysia is required to record less than 500 daily Covid-19 cases, have ‘sufficient’ demand on intensive care capacity, and 60 per cent of the population is fully vaccination. — DayakDaily