KUALA LUMPUR, March 11– Pakatan Harapan (PH) today urged the government to grant amnesty to undocumented migrants, estimated to number up to four million, to encourage them to come forward for Covid-19 vaccination.
The Pakatan Harapan Covid-19 Vaccination Committee also suggested for the government to look at alternative pathways or “neutral” locations for these migrant workers to get vaccinated, so that they feel safe to go to these places rather than to a government facility.
“A comprehensive and clear policy on amnesty is needed to build trust among the undocumented migrant community in view of the scores of arrest of undocumented migrants last year, even after an initial promise that no action will be taken if they came forward to be tested,” the PH Covid-19 Vaccination Committee said in a statement.
“Such actions have caused even more distrust among this community and if not properly addressed, they will not be willing to come out to be vaccinated due to the fear of ‘being tricked’ again.”
The opposition coalition said that any government policy on amnesty should be conveyed in a culturally and language appropriate way so that it reaches all communities throughout Malaysia, especially the migrant communities.
“The government should work closely with The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and civil society organisations to help to reach out to refugees and undocumented migrants for Covid-19 vaccination,” PH lawmakers said.
“This is part of the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach where together they should look at identifying locations where the migrant community are normally located, including their workplace, factories or even housing areas and set up special Vaccination Distribution Centers (VDCs) directly in those areas.”
They also suggested for the government to work with hospitals run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Mercy Malaysia, Doctors Without Borders or community clinics often visited by the migrant community, so there is some form of documentation for them on top of it being a neutral and safe vaccination site.
PH lawmakers stressed that without vaccinating undocumented migrants in Malaysia, 70 per cent herd immunity will not be achieved and Covid-19 will continue to spread in the community. They cited estimates of 1.2 million to four million undocumented migrants in Malyasia.
“That is why the policy must be clear, comprehensive and be put on black and white so that we can effectively address this issue.”
Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin previously said that the government will be vaccinating all migrants, including undocumented ones, for free with the Covid-19 vaccine in order to achieve herd immunity of 80 per cent.