Penang, July 3, 2021 – On June 15, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced a four-phase National Recovery Plan (NRP) with three main threshold indicators to be met before the nation can move on to the next phase. We welcome the federal government’s gradual Covid-19 exit plan that provides clear threshold indicators. However, it is worth noting that the Covid situation and progress of the immunisation programme vary across states. A decentralized approach that allows individual states to move on the NRP phases based on the fulfilment of their respective threshold indicators may be more pragmatic in balancing the repercussion of public health and economy.
The three indicators for Malaysia to shift into phase two of NRP are: 1) Average daily Covid-19 cases drop to below 4,000, 2) The healthcare system is no longer at a critical stage, with ICU bed usage returning to moderate levels and 3) 10% of the population has received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
The 4,000 threshold indicates that daily Covid-19 new cases would need to go below 0.012% of Malaysia’s total population (32.75 million). The nation’s average daily new cases in June were 5,987, representing 0.018% of the country’s total population. However, in the context of Penang, the average daily new cases for June were 196, representing 0.011% of Penang’s total population (1.78 million), which is below the threshold indicator.
The current inoculation rate in Penang as of 30 June showed that 419,344 people have received at least 1 dose (24% of Penang’s population), out of which 123,065 people have been fully vaccinated (7% of Penang’s population). With the State’s ongoing efforts of accelerating the vaccination rate, the number of vaccine doses administered is on a rising trend, reaching daily doses of 15,443 on 30th June. Moreover, the federal government has also committed to deliver 591,532 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Penang in July, and together with optimizing the operation of vaccination centres (PPV), the State is making inroads to achieve the 10% fully vaccinated threshold.
In order to have an effective exit plan, sharing transparent and comprehensive data for each indicator is crucial. Only by having up-to-date information that reflects the real situation on the ground, the citizens and private sector can act collectively and accordingly to achieve the indicators for different stages of the exit plan. As such, transparency on the state level data on daily tests being carried out; availability of ICU beds in the healthcare system and the number of vaccines being supplied are much needed.
Currently, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Penang branch and the state government are facilitating on the Covid-19 testing to identify cases as early as possible to stamp the spread or before turning into a new cluster. Many Vaccination Centres (Pusat Pemberian Vaksin, PPVs) have been set up by the State and private sector to support the ramping up of the vaccination numbers. Importantly, the private sector is willing to support the need of the public healthcare system and to improve the latter’s facilities.
The Covid-19 may never go away. Vaccination is the only way to reduce the risk of infection as well as transmission. While our country is speeding up Covid-19 inoculations, a flexible approach in relaxing the economic activities based on the respective states’ fulfilment of indicators during the transition period may be more feasible. Continuous enforcement of SOPs nationwide and targeted lockdown could be the only way in reaching an equilibrium between saving lives and livelihoods among the citizens and businesses, particularly those that are gravely impacted by the lockdown.
DATO’ SERI LEE KAH CHOON
Deputy Chairman of Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council
About Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council
The Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council is a joint effort between the State government and the industry associations. The key objectives of the Council are: 1) Enhancing the ease of doing business in Penang, 2) Collective efforts to identify companies’ strength and capabilities and to promote Penang’s industrial ecosystem and 3) An integrated voice for the industry. The members of the Council are InvestPenang, AMMI, FMM and FREPENCA and SAMENTA. The Council is chaired by the Chief Minister of Penang, Right Honourable Mr. Chow Kon Yeow, with InvestPenang being its secretariat.
InvestPenang is the Penang State Government’s principal agency for promotion of investment. Its objectives are to develop and sustain Penang’s economy by enhancing and continuously supporting business activities in the State through foreign and local investments, including spawning viable new growth centres. To realize its objectives, InvestPenang also runs initiatives like the SMART Penang Centre (providing assistance to SMEs), Penang CAT Centre (for talent attraction and retention) and i4.0 seed fund (a catalyst for the start-up ecosystem).
Since the establishment in 1989, the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) is recognised as the official voice of Malaysia’s medical device manufacturing industry. AMMI vision is to make Malaysia the preferred global manufacturing and services location for medical technology. AMMI is represented by 79 members of reputable multi-national and local companies involved in developing and manufacturing medical device products, equipment, and services in Malaysia for the healthcare industry. Collectively, AMMI’s members account for over 50% of the country’s total export revenue for medical devices, employing more than 32,000 workforces.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has been the voice of the Malaysian manufacturing sector since 1968. Representing over 10,000 member companies (3,500 direct and 7,000 indirect) from the manufacturing supply chain, FMM is actively engaged with government and its key agencies at Federal, State and local levels. FMM is also well-linked with international organizations, Malaysian businesses and civil society. Apart from benefitting from FMM’s advocacy, FMM members enjoy value-add services, including training, business networking and trade opportunities as well as regular information updates.
The Free Industrial Zone, Penang, Companies’ Association (“FREPENCA”) was registered as an Association in 1978. Two of its main objectives are to maintain and improve communications and relationships amongst its members in matters of mutual interest as well as with the Government and its agencies and also to foster community welfare and cultural activities and to promote positive attitudes toward industrial workers. The majority of our members are big MNCs and export-oriented Malaysian Companies operating in the state of Penang which contribute significantly towards Malaysian GDP.
SAMENTA is the first trade association representing all types of SMEs and was incorporated in 1986 with its initial base in Penang. Today, SAMENTA has branches in the North, Central and South. Our roles are to support the growth and development of SMEs and serve as the advocacy group to raise issues affecting SMEs. SAMENTA works in co-operation with State and Federal agencies to advance the causes of SMEs. In addition, we organize trade facilitation and business matching programmes for the benefit of SMEs. For further information, visit www.samenta.org.my