Weekly Highlights

DAP supports the NCIP

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) fully supports the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) and hopes that it will be implemented effectively and equitably as fast as possible for the benefit of the Malaysian people.

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 program if we are to reopen the economy and start our path towards getting back to a situation where we would recognize 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.

That is why in our meeting with the Coordinating Minister for National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme YB Khairy Jamaluddin (pictured), we raised the following points and gave the following inputs which we believe are important to ensure a successful rollout of the programme.

Firstly, we take seriously the complaints and allegations made by front-liners of incidents of “queue-cutting” especially those allegedly involving VVIPs taking the place of front liners during the early stages of Phase 1 of the NCIP.

These front liners should be given priority and the government must make sure those in Phase 1 should get their vaccination as soon as possible without any further delays.

We welcome the call by the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin for whistle-blowers to come forward to report to him directly cases of queue-jumping.

But there must be a more efficient way of dealing with this abuse of power other than to communicate directly with a Minister who has many things on his plate. The fact that some front-liners used social media to show examples of queue-cutters demonstrates the need for a formalized and institutionalised channel for whistle blowers to report on these queue cutters.

At the same time, we expressed our concern that the Ministry of Health issued a circular warning all of its staff not to make comments on the COVID-19 vaccination plan or post pictures on social media. It is unfair to the frontliners to call them heroes in the fight against COVID-19 one moment and then threaten to take action against them when some of their actions, borne out of frustration, is suddenly inconvenient for the authorities.

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.

While it may not have been the right thing to share pictures of vaccine takers without their consent, one should acknowledge the pressures that the frontliners have been going through and not take a punitive approach towards these slip-ups.

There have been complaints of social media influencers queue-cutting and getting the vaccine earlier than intended.

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.

Secondly, we hope the government can quickly specify the parameters of the “Vulnerable Groups Prioritised for Covid-19 Vaccination” especially in Phase 2 of the NCIP that is scheduled to start in less than a month in April 2021.

This is important to reduce any confusion that may rise as well as to make sure that Phase 2 goes on smoothly especially since the government is looking at vaccinating up to 9.4 million of people aged 60 and above and those with comorbidities, chronic disease that have higher risk to develop more severe Covid-19.

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.

Thirdly, the Ministry must draw up a comprehensive framework to strengthen collaboration between the public sector and the private sector to ensure better success in implementation of the NCIP as well as to faster achieve our target of vaccinating 70% of our population in order to achieve herd immunity. Medical personnel in the private sector including the General Practitioners (GPs) and Private Dentist must be prioritised even in Phase 1 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.

Fourthly, effective and strategic communications is important in determining the success of the NCIP. That is why a comprehensive confidence campaign which includes multi-modal communications on multiple mediums and languages must be carried out aggressively to ensure that every community is given the right information based on science and facts to counter the spread of misinformation and fake news with regards to the vaccine.

We are appreciative of the NCIP materials being produced in four languages (BM, English, Chinese and Tamil) and we thank the Minister for acknowledging a recent effort by two MPs (Steven and Kelvin) and Dr. SK Khor to have an online event where the vaccination program was explained in Hokkien. We look forward to more of these NCIP related explanations in other dialects such as Cantonese and Hakka and also in Tamil and Iban.

DAP supports the NCIP.

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 centers, for example.

Given the need for a bipartisan approach to fight this pandemic, we hope that the Federal Government will include all the MPs as well as ADUNs in each state in a more direct and institutionalized manner as part of the “whole of society” approach to ensure the successful rollout of the NCIP in all four phases. We ask for the provision of adequate resources as well as access to data so that we can play our part effectively in the NCIP rollout.

Finally, we also urged the Minister to strongly advice the Prime Minister (pictured) to not call for a general election until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved in our country. To call for a general election before herd immunity is achieved is 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.

We thank the Minister for his promise that this bipartisan dialogue and discussion will be an ongoing one, throughout the rollout of the NCIP.

Lim Guan Eng

Secretary General of the DAP and Member of Parliament for Bagan

Dr. Kelvin Yii

Chairman, Special Select Committee on Health, Science and Innovation

MP for Bandar Kuching

Dr. Ong Kian Ming

MP for Bangi

Steven Sim Chee Keong

MP for Bukit Mertajam

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