Chong: DUN sitting best channel for State govt to reveal Covid-19 vaccine procurement, vaccination details

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING, May 4: Calling for DUN to convene to discuss about vaccinating Sarawakians is not a cheap publicity stunt, says a senior State opposition leader.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chief Chong Chieng Jen told off Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah for likening calls for a Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting to discuss Covid-19 vaccine procurement to acts of seeking cheap publicity.

“His excuses of the requirement of 28-day notice for convening a DUN meeting and the expiry date of DUN on June 6, 2021 are the most ridiculous and ignorant excuses ever come up by a Minister for refusing to call (for a) DUN meeting,” said Chong in a press statement today.

He said DUN Standing Order 6 clearly provides that in cases of urgency which if certified by two ministers, the Speaker may reduce or entirely dispense with the 28-day notice requirement for convening a DUN sitting.

“Is Abdul Karim so ignorant of the DUN Standing Order that he is totally unaware of such provision?” Chong who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman questioned.

Chong pointed out that since two months ago, the Sarawak government has been indicating that it will buy Covid-19 vaccines, “but so far there is only all talk but no action by the State Government”.

“To purchase vaccines and to carry out the mass vaccination programme, it will involve additional State funds to be allocated and all government allocation must be subject to approval by the DUN, unless Abdul Karim intends to bypass the process of the DUN to use public funds for the purpose,” Chong added.

He stressed that no one is above the law and no one shall be allowed to use public funds without the authorisation and approval of DUN, not even Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) or a PBB minister.

The Stampin MP opined that not only is DUN the only legal channel through which to approve the use of public funds, it is also the most appropriate forum for the government to inform the people of Sarawak of its plan concerning the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and the roll out of vaccinations to the people.

According to Chong, the State government must make public the following:

1. What type of vaccine it intends to purchase, and whether it has been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA);
2. The estimated costs to procure the vaccines;
3. The timeline for the vaccines’ arrival in Sarawak;
4. How the Government of Sarawak intends to vaccinate 50,000 people in a day as claimed by Dr Sim Kui Hian given that only 56,000 people in Sarawak have received 2 doses of vaccines in 2 months (from Feb 27,2021 to April 29, 2021);
5. The number of vaccination centres which will be set up throughout Sarawak and how many medical staff will be deployed throughout Sarawak for the exercise;
6. How the Government is going to manage vaccination appointment dates and the personal data of those who are not on the MySejahtera app for the vaccination programme; and
7. How the vaccination programme will be run in the rural areas of Sarawak.

“So far, the people of Sarawak are in the dark on these questions and the State government also seems clueless about it, except making hollow statements about ‘wanting to purchase vaccine on its own’ and ‘50,000 vaccination a day’.

“Therefore, I call on the government to immediately convene the DUN sitting to inform the public of its plan and the timeline for the purchase of the vaccines and vaccination exercise for the people of Sarawak,” said Chong. — DayakDaily