Anwar urges govt to conduct local studies on Covid-19 vaccine, stop depending on international sources

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya March 13, 2020. — Bernama pic
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya March 13, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged the government to utilise its resources and better prepare the country for a future pandemic, besides the ongoing combat against Covid-19.

During a public address through his Facebook page today, the Pakatan Harapan chairman indicated that Malaysia needs to begin building necessary infrastructure, and empower local universities and healthcare centres — which will reduce dependency on international sources of pandemic-related information.

“Why are resources not being poured into studying the (Covid-19) vaccine here in Malaysia, and working to make our own advancements, not just for our citizens, but so that we can become contributors to the global discourse.

“What facilities and centres should we build now, not only to quickly and effectively combat the pandemic, but also to seek long term solutions for greater public health and future pandemic preparedness in Malaysia,” he said

Anwar warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is unlikely to be the last pandemic Malaysian’s will face, adding that the next one may come soon and might even be more destructive.

Anwar also chided the government for not making clear plans available to the public on matters, such as the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

Furthermore, he asked for a clear breakdown of the RM2.05 billion spent on vaccines so that the public can make sure that government funds are not going into the pockets of “middlemen” and “cronies”.

“Thankfully the Yang-di Pertuan Agong’s latest decision means Parliament will soon enough be allowed to convene again and allow members of parliaments to do the duty the rakyat have elected them to fulfil,” he said, referring to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

On Tuesday, the Agong decreed that Parliamentary sessions could reconvene even during the current state of Emergency.

“I strongly urge the Prime Minister to call Parliament into session as soon as possible, so that we call all truly work together so that we can end this culture of vague rhetoric and demand for stronger plans and transparency so that we may unite as a strong Malaysia to take down once and for all the Covid-19 virus,” Anwar said.

Parliament sessions had previously been put on hold from January 12, when the Emergency was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin after it was assented to by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Malaysians received its first glimmer of hope that the pandemic is coming to end soon with the arrival of 312,290 Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines last Sunday.

The vaccines are part of the first-phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme which aims to immunise 500,000 frontline workers such as healthcare professionals, the police and the army.

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