Take COVID-19 Seriously or Move Out, GRS Told

PENAMPANG : As daily new cases have been reported to have spiked up during the whole week in Penampang, the Deputy President of Parti Warisan Sabah, Datuk Darell Leiking had taken the GRS-led State Government to task for the lack of foresight and seriousness on their part to curb the pandemic in the district and repeated his demand for the vaccination process to be expedited.

“Less than 2 weeks ago, several Penampang folks including myself had reminded the GRS-led State Government to act quickly to contain the rising cases in the District and in fact, some suggestions were given such as the introduction of ‘Prioritized Appointment’ in whereby the Government deployed grassroot leaders namely JPKK Chairpersons and Ketua Kampungs to identify and furnish the names of those who have yet to receive their vaccination despite been waiting for several months to the Officer in Charge at PPVs (Vaccination Centres).

This could have also further enhanced the “Walk-In-Vaccination Programme” since mobilising teams from KKM can be deployed and vaccinate at the respective villages more quickly and efficiently.

And there was also a suggestion that the GRS-led State Government introduce a ‘community monitoring and enforcement’ by requesting these grassroot leaders to make rounds in their respective villages to prevent villagers from flouting SOPs.

Did the GRS-led State Government listened to these ideas that would have curb the pandemic? No!

Instead, it (GRS) enforced restrictions that only those who received full vaccination, which I assumed the 2 doses of vaccine, be allowed to buy essential goods at hypermarkets, enter shopping malls or eat at restaurants – while these restrictions in nature are no different from the 2 full lockdowns that the State experienced before, it (the restrictions) is definitely not the end that we wanted which is the herd immunity thru 80% vaccination.

Hence, if the vaccination process is slow, then all these restrictions will continue indefinitely or intermittently because Sabah will still be subject to new clusters here and there – this is grossly unfair to the hundred thousands of Sabahans who will continuously be denied of their rights to buy essential goods at hypermarkets, work as cashiers or sales assistants in shopping malls or eat in restaurants with their friends all because the GRS-led State Government is unable to push for the herd immunity expediently and effectively.

And with intermittent restrictions, the biggest loser would amongst others undoubtedly be the tourism sector in Sabah where bookings will always be made prior to visitors actually setting foot in the State so if the GRS-led State Government is slow in achieving the immunity herd, then the tourism players will have to continue to brace themselves for dark period.

So what we want the GRS-led State Government Ministers to do is to stop saying everyday that ‘Sabah need more vaccines’ as if they have just realized about it – and instead, show their resolute firmness and assertiveness when dealing with the Federal Government, in the same tenacity that Datuk Seri Shafie did during his tenure as Chief Minister.

Hence in relation to the procurement of vaccines for Sabah and increase of the rate of vaccination in the State and Penampang, the GRS-led State Government must invoke its inherent Rights to Demand for the Federal Government to immediately despatch without a single day delay the much needed vaccine doses as the war against the pandemic in Sabah is failing day by day ,” he said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, the Event Chairperson of Penampang Act of Kindness Association (PAKA), Batholomew Jingulam said that the association is monitoring the rising cases in Penampang and appealed to everyone to practice self-discipline in maintaining SOPs while at the same time, hoped the State Government will not only expedite but force procure vaccines and enhance the vaccination process in the State.

“We are now living with the virus and the severity of the situation tells us that self-discipline by all is paramount especially in adhering to SOPs but we now see how this awareness is lacking among the population even at PPVs offering walk-in vaccinations.

It takes two to tango – while we bemoan the lack of awareness of SOPs within the people at the walk-in PPVs, this should have been anticipated earlier by the authorities and their several months experience in the vaccination process could have done more to ensure SOPs are enforced strictly at the PPVs.

In the meantime, the State Government must now treat the vaccination process as “Red Alert situation” as the Covid Infection is today Sabah’s clear and present danger – we Sabahans must also demand this Government to act now and without any excuses so we can achieve the herd immunity and not to overly dependent on enhanced movement control or total lockdown to contain the pandemic.

People are now desperate to save our Sabahan community and we can see at how anxious and eager Sabahans wants the vaccination now.

The Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) imposed on some affected areas all over Sabah have also affected our livelihoods of those who are not infected and had strictly followed the SOP besides having had been vaccinated and whatever subsistence aids or assistances given by the State Government such as the food basket worth RM100 will only last for a week in lieu of months of suffering thereafter,” he said.

“With the spikes of new cases in Penampang, I believe there will be several areas in the district be listed under the EMCO more so when Penampang is a small district but densely populated with multiple compact low and middle cost housings or apartments that could easily set up a new cluster.

PAKA is working closely with the MP Office of Penampang in this matter and the association welcome donation of essential goods including masks, sanitisers, formula milk from the public, firms or companies so those who are interested to do some donation, they can contact the MP Office of Penampang for details.

My concern however is the recent late afternoon heavy downpour experienced by Penampang for the past 3 days – if this trend of daily heavy downpour continues for another week or two, then the risk of major flooding engulfing the lower part of Penampang is real and villagers who will have to be evacuated to evacuation centres may risk themselves to infection more so when we are now registering a high rate of infections at the moment.

This is truly a great disaster awaiting for Penampang if our Authorities are not prepared for it or fails to treat this mission to vaccinate as a clear and present danger to all Sabahans”, he concluded.