KOTA KINABALU: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu Chan Foong Hin in a statement issued today declared his support towards the call by Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Azalina Othman, urging the Perikatan Nasional Federal Government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to immediately reopen Parliament to gather both government and opposition lawmakers to discuss and debate countermeasures against the ever-worsening Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
Chan, who is also the Secretary of DAP Sabah, further added that he fully supports Azalina’s suggestion that Parliament ought to be convened under the condition that no Members of Parliament is to table any motions of no confidence to avoid any unnecessary political disturbance.
Chan in his statement further emphasized the necessity of convening a parliament sitting during the pandemic. He said that even if Members of Parliament express their opinions through the media, these opinions may not be picked up by government officials and institutions, leading to these parliamentarians not being able to make policy recommendations on the fight against the pandemic for the benefit of the people. For example, Sabah has the lowest vaccination registration rate in the country. As of the 25th May, only 7.56% of the population here were registered. In contrast, Sarawak’s rate of registration is at 56.57%. In addition, Sabah’s vaccination rate is also the lowest in the country, only 4.13%, while Sarawak is higher at 8.29%.
“I compare Sabah with Sarawak because these two states are both large and sparsely populated, and there are as many rural areas without network coverage. The million-dollar-question is then why Sarawak is way ahead of Sabah in terms of registration rate and vaccination rate? Are the people of Sabah more suspicious of vaccines and are undecided? Or is there an extraordinarily high number of illegal immigrants and foreign workers in Sabah (and the inability to register them for vaccine) which is causing the low rate of registration? Does Sabah need a specific strategy to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19?” questioned Chan.
Chan said that these questions have to be raised within the parliament hall in order to officially get the attention and elicit a response from officials and Ministers from various agencies, such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation that coordinates vaccination. He remarked that the relevant Ministers will be obliged to respond to inquiries raised by parliamentarians in their respective debates in their respective summing-up sessions. If it is too late to respond verbally in the parliament hall, the Minister must also provide a written answer as members continue to inquire.
“Only by accelerating the vaccination in Sabah, instead of resorting to the vicious cycle of economic and social “closure-reopening-closure” again and again, can the pandemic be defeated. So how to accelerate the vaccine registration/administration rate in Sabah? When debating these issues, the transparency of the data held by many officials is important, and parliamentary meetings contribute to the transparency of information,” said Chan.
Chan remarked that Members of Parliament can ask for further breakdown of data and its analysis by submitting questions in writing to the relevant ministries.
“For example, for the aforementioned registration/vaccination rate, I think the data released by the Ministry of Health must be further broken down to the district and division level in order to provide a complete picture. Isn’t it the case in Sabah that districts and towns on the east coast have the lowest vaccination registration and vaccination rates? Or is the interior districts having the lowest numbers? We will only be able to resolve the problem once we identify where the problem lies. Only in this way can properly come up with a solution and speed up the entire vaccination process,” said Chan.
Chan said that members of the ruling and opposition parties must work together to make the country survive this ever-worsening Covid-19 pandemic. International media have reported that the pandemic in Malaysia has gone out of control, even surpassing India, the hardest-hit area.
“According to figures from “Our World in Data”, Malaysia’s 7-day rolling report released on Tuesday indicates that there are 205.1 cases per 1 million people in Malaysia, compared with 150.4 cases per 1 million people in India. The population of Malaysia is approximately 32 million, which is much smaller than the population of nearly 1.4 billion in India,” said Chan.
Lastly, Chan advised his fellow Sabahans to not be complacent and to not think that the Covid-19 cases in West Malaysia and Sarawak are not of their concern. The Indian variant virus has reached Labuan, which is merely a ferry’s ride away.
“After Hari Raya, the pandemic situation in Sabah is on the rise, and the Harvest Festival is approaching at the end of the month. I would like to gently remind all my fellow Sabahans that even though we are currently allowed to dine-in at restaurants at the present with standard operating procedures less strict than in other states, we nevertheless must always continue to be vigilant about self-hygiene, observe social distancing, and to avoid gatherings. Do not forget that Sabah’s vaccination rate is still the lowest in the country. If Covid-19 goes out of control in Sabah once again, the consequences will be disastrous,” said Chan.