Village headmen can vouch for Sarawakians without identity papers at walk-in Covid-19 vaccination centres, SDMC told

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File picture shows Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah observing the registration process for Covid-19 vaccination at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club in Miri, June 18, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Deputy Minister’s Office
File picture shows Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah observing the registration process for Covid-19 vaccination at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club in Miri, June 18, 2021. — Picture courtesy of the Deputy Minister’s Office

KUCHING, June 20 — The state Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has been urged to seek assistance from village headmen to verify the status of Sarawakians, who walk in for their Covid-19 vaccination without prior appointment but are without any form of identification.

Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian said he believes that many residents in remote interior areas do possess identity cards or MyKads.

He said the SDMC should issue a clear and firm directive to the medical personnel on the ground.

“I know many in my constituency do not have ICs even though they were born and have lived here for many years.

“Each village has its own headman or community leader and they are able to confirm that each person in their community is a ‘human being’ who is a potential victim of the Covid-19 virus, even without any documentation in hand.

“Their word should be good enough,” Baru said in a statement when responding to allegations that several native farmers from Long San located in the interior of Baram were turned away when they went to a vaccination centre.

He said he was shocked and flabbergasted to read that indigenous people without ICs were being turned away by walk-in vaccination centres in the interior areas.

“This is another example of the need for clear instructions and guidelines from the SDMC and the need for officers on the ground to exercise discretion with reasonableness and compassion.

“These officers who have been sent to administer the vaccinations must be reminded of the objective of their mission,” he said, stating that their aim is to protect the vulnerable.

He added it is not for frontliners to separate these villagers into those who have ICs and those who do not.

Two days ago, SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah ordered an investigation into allegations that some indigenous farmers from deep inside Baram in the Miri Division were turned away by a Covid-19 vaccination centre.

He contacted the Miri Health officer Dr Raviwharmman Packierisamy for clarification following news reports of the allegations.

However, Uggah, who is also the deputy chief minister, had said Dr Raviwharmman denied rejecting the farmers who were without their citizenship documents, saying that the Miri Health Department had a mechanism to deal with those without a MyKad who come for their vaccination.

Sarawak has started accepting walk-ins for Covid-19 vaccination in its rural areas due to the logistical and communication difficulty in reaching residents living deep in the interior that are not connected to roads.

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