Give free Covid-19 vaccines only for citizens, urges Masing

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

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KUCHING, Feb 17: While welcoming the vaccination plan for the whole nation scheduled to start on Feb 23 (Tuesday), Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing is against giving free vaccinations for non-citizens.

“The roll out of free vaccination exercise for Covid-19, by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in three phases in Malaysia including non-citizens employed in Malaysia starts Feb 26, 2021 is good news.

“It’s a very commendable effort by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Free vaccine to all Malaysians is very honorable exercise. Malaysians’ health and safety must be the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s first priority.

“However, I don’t agree in giving free vaccination to non-citizens working in Malaysia. That responsibility should be assigned to the employees’ employers. It’s not fair to use taxpayers’ money to pay for non-citizens’ health,” Masing said in a statement today.

He added that it is ridiculous to provide free vaccines to non-citizens living in the country as the government has no obligation to look after them.

“As a responsible government, it is only right to look after our own citizens,” Masing asserted.

Yesterday, Muhyiddin announced when launching the national vaccination plan guidebook that the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would arrive on Sunday (Feb 21), ahead of the scheduled Feb 26 roll out of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

Muhyiddin will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by around 500,000 people working on the front lines of the Covid-19 battle, the majority of them healthcare workers. Others include welfare officers, security staff and elected representatives.

“Among those who have close contact with the public are MPs and state assemblymen. Whether they are with the government or opposition, they will be vaccinated in the first phase,” Muhyiddin said after the launch yesterday (Feb 16).

The first phase will end in April and vaccines will then be made available to 9.4 million people in high-risk groups, such as those with certain diseases, those above the age of 65 and other medical professionals.

The remainder of those aged 18 and above living in Malaysia, including foreign workers, will be eligible for vaccination between May and next February.

Malaysia previously said that it had secured enough vaccines to cover nearly all of its 33 million population. The target is to vaccinate 80 per cent of all adults by the end of the year or by February next year at the latest.

The first batch of vaccines arriving on Sunday will contain 312,390 doses. Each individual needs two doses. Malaysia has secured 12.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech. — DayakDaily