,Lee Heng Guie: We are calling for the new government to ensure both government and political stability as well as rebuilding confidence and trust. It is not the time for politicking; it is about saving lives and livelihoods. Stay highly focused on the implementation of the vaccination programme and National Recovery Plan.
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THE Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery are taking centre stage in the run-up to the formation of a new Cabinet under Malaysia’s ninth Prime Minister. The new government will need to grapple with the prolonged pandemic, economic and social malaise as well as political challenges ahead.
We have been in more than an 18-month war against the pandemic to take the country out of the turbulence with resilience. While the pace of vaccinations has increased, the virus spread remains far from over, though it will likely be contained with a time lag. We are seeing lower admissions of serious cases in the state (s) reaching a high proportion of the population vaccinated. We must not let our guard down.
Despite the very low-base effect having lifted the second-quarter (Q2) gross domestic product (GDP) year-on-year growth, the economy is not out of the “comfort and safe zone”. The second half (H2) economy remains challenging, as the economic scarring effects from the “open-shut” stricter containment measures continue to bite.
Economic despair has deepened on reduced and unstable household income and a high jobless rate; with many hardest-hit businesses and sectors continuing to struggle for survival. Bank Negara has slashed this year’s GDP growth estimate to 3% to 4% from 6% to 7.5% previously, implying a sharp pullback in growth from 7.2% in H1 of 2021.
We are calling for the new government to:The price of self-test kits for health risk assessment should be lowered; as should the Covid-19 screening cost. The planning and preparation of booster vaccines should be started.
> Ensure both government and political stability as well as rebuilding confidence and trust. It is not the time for politicking; it is about saving lives and livelihoods. Stay highly focused on the implementation of the vaccination programme and National Recovery Plan.
The new government has to convince the people of its capacity to implement effective containment measures; timely economic response to limit economic damage; and navigate the country out of this crisis. Promote trust, transparency, common purpose and accountability in the government.
> Enhance and strengthen pandemic mitigation and containment measures.
Stringent implementation of public health and social measures remain the key to curb the virus spread. Besides achieving herd immunity, efforts to test, trace, isolate and treat must be scaled up along with practising SOPs.