KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Federal and state lawmakers of Selangor and Sarawak, numbering at 187, have been prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in the first phase of the rollout because they are considered frontliners.
Selangor has 22 MPs and 56 state assemblymen (Azmin Ali is both Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman), whereas Sarawak has 31 MPs and 82 state assemblymen (three representatives hold both federal and state elected office).
Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari today received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine — the Pfizer-BioNTech shot — along with 41 others, including 16 state executive councillors and members of the Selangor State Security Special Committee.
The Selangor Menteri Besar’s office told the press, in response to a question by CodeBlue, that all the state assemblymen and Members of Parliament from Selangor would be able to get vaccinated in the first phase of the national inoculation campaign, likely in two weeks’ time.
The first phase of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme targets about 500,000 essential frontline workers — mainly health care providers, law enforcement, and welfare staff — with about a million doses of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine expected to arrive in Malaysia by end March.
Inoculating 187 elected representatives in Selangor and Sarawak will just take up 374 doses, assuming that all the politicians accept vaccination. While some criticise the inclusion of politicians in the first phase of the inoculation campaign, amid limited vaccine supplies, others say that vaccinating lawmakers first may help counter vaccine hesitancy among the general public.
Malaysiakini reported Amirudin as saying that state assemblymen are considered frontliners because they have been tasked to manage the second and third phases of the vaccination programme later, though he did not specify what their tasks would be.
The Menteri Besar’s office also told CodeBlue that family members of Selangor state executive councillors are not in the list to receive vaccines in the first phase of the rollout.
Amiruddin said in a statement that a total of 66,690 frontliners in Selangor will get inoculated in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
“Selangor reiterates its determination to obtain a supply of vaccines for the lucky Red-Yellow state [Selangor] to complement the federal government’s efforts by providing adequate doses for all Selangor residents, especially those at high risk and workers in key economic sectors of the state.”
At the same time, Sarawak has also classified all its MPs and state assemblymen as frontliners, according to a February 24 letter by Sarawak state health department director Dr Chin Zin Hing to the Sarawak state legislative assembly Speaker Asfia Awang Nassar.
“For Yang Berhormat Datuk Amar’s information, state assemblymen and Members of Parliament are frontliners, based on the Malaysia Ministry of Health’s definition,” Dr Chin wrote in his letter to the Sarawak state legislative assembly Speaker, as sighted by CodeBlue.
Sarawak state legislative assembly secretary Pele Peter Tinggom similarly wrote in a February 24 letter, as sighted by CodeBlue, to all members of the House that Sarawak state assemblymen and Members of Parliament are considered “frontliners” and would be offered inoculation in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
According to Dr Chin, Sarawak state assemblymen and MPs can get vaccinated from February 27 until March 4 in nearby vaccination centres, except for elected representatives from the Bintulu, Miri, and Limbang divisions who can get their Covid-19 vaccine shots in the second week from March 5 to 11.