KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — The government today appeared to retract Covid-19 vaccine mandates on the federal government workforce, of which only 2 per cent are not yet inoculated.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Latiff Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat today that 98.18 per cent of 1.6 million civil servants have been fully vaccinated, while 1.92 per cent, or some 32,000 individuals, have not received their jabs.
“Covid-19 vaccination is still ongoing and offered voluntarily,” Abdul Latiff said during Question Time.
“However, if the government wishes to mandate or to ensure that all 1.6 million are vaccinated, this requires a few conditions, rules, and engagement so that it can be done properly.”
Abdul Latiff’s remarks in Parliament today contradicted an announcement by the Public Service Department (JPA) last September 30 that Covid-19 vaccination would be compulsory for federal public servants.
JPA said then that every civil servant must complete vaccination by November 1 and that those who are unable to get Covid-19 shots for medical reasons should produce exemption certificates. Disciplinary action will be taken on unvaccinated federal workers who fail to produce these documents.
Completing vaccination by November 1 means that all civil servants must have had their first jab by today, based on three-week regimens.
When Tebrau MP Steven Choong Shiau Yoon asked what could be done about civil servants who still refuse to get Covid-19 vaccines, Abdul Latiff said: “We cannot force them; in Singapore, there are laws that mandate [vaccination], but we haven’t reached that stage yet.”
The minister also pointed out that many public places, such as restaurants, require complete Covid-19 vaccination for entry into the premises.
“Soon enough, they’ll realise that they cannot live without enjoying privileges given to others,” he said, adding that unvaccinated people faced much higher risk of contracting severe Covid-19 disease requiring intensive care.
“So we leave it to their wisdom.”
Abdul Latiff also welcomed Sri Gading MP Shahruddin Salleh’s suggestion for regular Covid-19 testing on civil servants, including teachers, twice a week, like what MPs currently undergo before attending proceedings in the House.
“We can bring this forward and table it at the National Security Council meeting chaired by the prime minister.”