KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — The DAP today expressed its full support for the government’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP), which they hope will be implemented as fast as possible for the benefit of all Malaysians.
In a joint statement, the Opposition party’s lawmakers said they had recently met Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who is also NCIP coordinator and relayed several points which they felt to be most important to ensure the smoothest rollout.
“The success of the NCIP is something which ALL political parties in Malaysia should support as it is crucial in our efforts to reduce the infectivity of Covid-19 and to protect the health of our people.
“It is imperative that we have a successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme if we are to reopen the economy and start our path towards getting back to a situation where we would recognise it as normal. Any actions undertaken by individuals or groups which threaten to slow down or worse yet, derail the NCIP must be taken very seriously,” the DAP MPs said.
The statement bore the names of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng who is also Bagan MP, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming and Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim Chee Keong.
The foursome related that during their meeting, they had urged Khairy to advise Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin not to call for a general election until at least 70 per cent of the Malaysian population is vaccinated and herd immunity is reached.
“To call for a general election before herd immunity is achieved is a huge public health risk as we saw from the Sabah by-elections experience. The health and economic well-being of the people must be prioritised over politics,” they said.
They also lauded Khairy for taking allegations of Covid-19 vaccination “queue-cutting by VVIPs during the first phase of the programme seriously by asking whistleblowers to report to him directly.
However, they expressed concern that his call may be negated by the Health Ministry’s warning to its medical staff yesterday that disciplinary action will be taken against those found to have made public complaints on social media, in response to criticism about the queue jumping.
“We asked that these whistle blowers be given adequate protection from any form of disciplinary action, especially one particular whistleblower medical officer who is being targeted by certain irresponsible quarters for her social media posts showing pictures of queue cutters.
“At the same time, all reports of queue cutters must be investigated transparently and those proven to have ‘cut-queue’ should be exposed in public and the necessary actions be taken against them as a lesson to all as well as to instil confidence to the public that there are no double standards in the implementation of the NCIP,” the DAP lawmakers said.
They urged the government to quickly specify the parametres of the vulnerable groups prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination during phase two of the NCIP to avoid further confusion.
“Communication and coordination with community stakeholders, from medical specialists to community clinics and care homes must be ramped up to ensure that all of these vulnerable groups are not left behind.
“These groups must get the right information so that they can make informed decisions based on their respective situations,” they said.
They said that the Putrajaya must also compose a comprehensive framework to increase collaboration between public and private sectors to ensure faster and more effective rollout of the vaccination plan to achieve herd immunity as fast as possible.
“Medical personnel in the private sector including the General Practitioners (GPs) and Private Dentist must be prioritised even in Phase one of the NCIP as they are often the first point of care for patients with symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) and Influenza Like Illness (ILI) — the most common symptoms in patients infected with Covid-19,” they said.
They added that a comprehensive confidence campaign is a must have in determining the success of the programme, and that multimodal communications on multiple mediums and languages must be carried out aggressively to ensure everyone is on board with the programme.
“We as DAP will give our full cooperation including mobilising our elected representatives to help share important and accurate information on the benefits of the NCIP and to counter wrong and misleading information about the vaccines through the different channels we have access to — social media, WhatsApp, SOP compliant events, just to name a few.
“We also stand ready to deploy our resources to help residents in our respective constituencies to use the MySejahtera App to register to take the vaccine through mobile service centres, for example,” they said.
They added that they hope the government will include all MPs and ADUNs in each state — irrespective of party — as a part of a ‘whole of society’ approach to ensure the successful rollout of NCIP in all four phases.
“We thank the Minister for his promise that this bipartisan dialogue and discussion will be an ongoing one, throughout the rollout of the NCIP,” they said.