KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today accused the federal government of stonewalling attempts by state governments and the private sector to procure Covid-19 vaccines.
He pointed out that less than 3 per cent of Malaysians have been vaccinated against Covid-19 so far. As of yesterday, only 726,411 people have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, comprising 2.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 32.7 million population.
Anwar, in a statement today, said that the Selangor state government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) waited months to get approval to procure more than two million vaccine doses for Selangor residents, despite allocating funds for it.
The Sarawak state government run by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Anwar said, faced similar delays in obtaining approvals to procure coronavirus vaccines.
“The PN (Perikatan Nasional) government, on the other hand, is obsessed about controlling the process from A to Z, causing completely avoidable delays in procurement. I am disturbed at the level of inefficiency on the part of the ministerial leadership,” Anwar said.
He also said he was informed that private businesses and foundations have sought to procure their own supply of Covid-19 vaccines approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), but their efforts have been “completely ignored by the federal government”.
“The federal government’s goal should be to ensure all Malaysians have access to safe and effective vaccines as soon as possible. However, the federal government does not need to be the entity which buys and administers every single dose,” the Opposition Leader said.
Anwar pointed out that some private companies are willing to spend money, even at a premium cost, to vaccinate their workers, while millions of Malaysians he felt are also willing to pay a few hundred ringgit to be vaccinated at a private hospital or clinic.
“If we are adopting an all-of-society approach, why can’t we make use of the resources of the entire society?”
The Port Dickson MP from PKR said this will allow the government to channel their limited resources of Covid-19 vaccines to the poor, marginalised, and most needy segments in the society to ensure equitable and rapid access to the vaccine.
Anwar demanded that the federal government immediately support the efforts of state governments and the private sector to procure approved vaccines in order to accelerate the country’s Covid-19 vaccination rate.
The PKR president also asked for an independent investigation under Parliament to scrutinise the causes of procurement bottlenecks experienced by the federal and state governments, as well as the private sector.
“Efficient vaccine procurement is something that we should have been well prepared for months ago. Our current performance is inexcusable.”
Coordinating Minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin previously said that the private sector can procure their own vaccines, but pointed out that Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers typically only carry out negotiations with governments and not the private sector.