Pakatan’s Covid-19 taskforce: Putrajaya’s contradicting remarks on vaccination shows poor coordination among ministers

G. Prakash
·3-min read
The task force said the policy of vaccination should by now be explicitly clear. ― Reuters pic
The task force said the policy of vaccination should by now be explicitly clear. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Covid-19 and vaccination task force today urged the government to stop making contradicting statements when it comes to the public health crisis to ensure the people understand the policies and operations of the government.

In a statement this morning, the group said there have been contradicting statements from Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba on the administration of daily vaccine doses.

“It gives the impression that the Cabinet ministers have poor coordination and agreement on basic issues such as the number of vaccines administered daily.

“Besides providing fodder to vaccine hesitancy and ammunition to anti-vaccination groups, it would similarly impact negatively on foreign investors' confidence in our government’s capabilities.

“Investors are looking for clear signals of recovery and poor governing capabilities do not sit well with them,” they said.

The task force said the policy of vaccination should by now be explicitly clear.

“When the vaccine coordinating minister announced that everyone including foreign workers and migrants would be vaccinated, it was a great relief to many as it demonstrated the inclusivity of the government.

“However, the unfortunate announcement, though later clarified and withdrawn, by the health director-general that it would not be necessary to vaccinate foreign workers, took everyone by surprise.

“We need a clarity of leadership whom we can trust to be the voice that speaks truthfully about our vaccines program. The ministers and the technocrats need to get their act together in order to inspire trust and build confidence among the people.

“Countries like Israel and the UAE are ahead by leaps and bounds in their mass vaccination campaigns, whilst we have only licensed one vaccine, and a few others are still pending Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA),” the group said.

The MPs said the public must be reminded that the arrival of Covid-19 vaccine does not mean the fight is over.

“It is disconcerting that the government is parading the vaccine arrival as though it is the 'saviour' of our pandemic. This would inevitably create a false sense of security for the public.

“They must know that the vaccines are part and parcel of a holistic program to mitigate, contain and help us to exit the pandemic. The other components of the program, namely strict adherence to SOPs, masking, physical distancing, better coverage of testing and contact tracing and meticulous attention to the FTTIS are similarly Critical Success Factors (CSF),” they said.

The group reminded health authorities not to oversell the idea to the people that things will always be great and everything will go according to plan.

“We must anticipate and plan for contingencies, and unforeseen circumstances as witnessed in our very recent experience. Despite the MCO and EO, we have failed to arrest the trajectory of the pandemic curve, let alone flatten the curve,” they said referring to the movement control order and the Emergency that has been declared.

The task force said the vaccine cannot be expected to compensate and cover for the failures of these basic public health responses.

“These areas must be put right if we want to enjoy the optimal power of the vaccine rollout,” they said.

PH’s Covid-19 task force is led by former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, his former deputy Dr Lee Boon Chye from PKR; Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii (DAP), Lumut MP Datuk Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (Amanah), Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin (PKR), Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming (DAP), Selangor Health executive councillor Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah), Penang Health exco Norlela Ariffin (PKR) as well as their counterpart from Negri Sembilan S. Veerapan (DAP).

The task force was set up last month to encourage Malaysians to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

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