KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii from the DAP was today elected chairman of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on health, science and innovation.
The Opposition lawmaker said the PSC plans to call up officers from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) this week to get fortnightly briefings on the government’s Covid-19 public health strategy and the national Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“We want the government’s plan during the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the Emergency — what are they planning to do to fill in the gaps of previous approaches that were lacking,” Dr Yii told CodeBlue.
“We intend to get a briefing from the government to understand their overall approach. We will call up the private sector, NGOs and other experts to give their input, and we’ll come up with a report to feed back to the government and compel them to follow, to the best of our capacity.
“The PSC plays an important role as a uniting point to mobilise all sectors — the private sector, NGOs, health groups — to an active whole-of-society approach towards Covid-19.”
Former Health deputy director-general (public health) Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman has called for detailed strategies from the government to control Covid-19 transmission during and after the two-week MCO, scheduled to end January 26, warning Putrajaya that continuing “business as usual” risked repeated lockdowns.
When asked if the PSC would also demand data from MOH that is not publicly available, such as the daily Covid-19 test positivity rate in seven-day moving averages and daily bed occupancy rates in individual hospitals and low-risk quarantine and treatment centres for Covid-19 patients, Dr Yii said the bipartisan committee would request for granular data.
“We want to make sure our recommendations are based on science and data, not at all political considerations.”
Dr Yii also said the PSC wants to be briefed by the Covid-19 Vaccine Supplies Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) on the latter’s proposed national Covid-19 vaccination strategy.
“We want full details of the whole plan and to scrutinise the plan and to add input to try to solidify the plan,” he said.
“More importantly, we want regular and updated reports in terms of the government’s progress — from training, vaccine education, and distribution of vaccines. We hope to also call up the health sector to give their input as well.”
The Sarawakian MP added that PSC members, in their virtual meeting earlier today, agreed that it was important for them to lead by example to increase public acceptance of Covid-19 vaccines and to avoid vaccine hesitancy.
“We may be on the frontline if needed to take the vaccine. I will be, I don’t mind.”
Dr Yii also said he would check with Parliament’s standing orders on whether the PSC’s briefings can be broadcast live for the public.
The bipartisan PSC, led by Dr Yii, comprises six other MPs, including five from the government: Yamani Hafez Musa (Sipitang), Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (Baling), Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan), Lukanisman Awang Sauni (Sibuti), Wan Hassan Mohd Ramli (Dungun), Xavier Jayakumar (Kuala Langat).