KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has denied the plan to comprehensively immunise Sarawak’s population from Covid-19 was politically motivated.

Instead, he explained that it was driven by concerns that Sarawak could be forced to hold its state election if the Emergency is lifted as scheduled on August 1.

“Should it end by August 1, then by law Sarawak is required to conduct its state elections within 60 days,” Khairy said during a press conference with Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

He cited the recent Sabah state election on September 26 last year, which triggered the ongoing third wave of Covid-19 infections after many travelled back to their home state to cast their ballots.

“If the state is not fully vaccinated by then, then both Sarawak and the entire country will be at risk of another Covid-19 wave.

“So with that in mind, there needs to be some form of accelerated vaccination for Sarawak, in the event that it must hold state elections should the Emergency conclude as scheduled,” Khairy said.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister said the federal government’s commitment to Sarawak did not in any way take from its commitments to the other states.

“I can give assurance to the people of Klang Valley that we will be picking up the pace for KL and Selangor.

“I will be visiting every state again over the next few weeks, to give them the federal government’s commitment that we will be accelerating the vaccination process in all states,” he said.

On his part, Uggah said if the Emergency were to end on August 1, it would effectively mean the end of the current administration’s term. Sarawak’s state government is led by Gabungan Parti Sarawak, which holds 68 of the 82 seats in the legislative assembly.

“From there on, we will leave it to the Election Commission to decide when Sarawak’s state elections can be held. At the moment, we will take the minister at his word that the federal government is doing its level best to ensure Sarawakians are vaccinated on time.

“We are impressed by the scope of the programme for the state, especially for industrial and agricultural workers. I am confident things will work out smoothly,” he said.

Putrajaya through Khairy has promised to supply 4.4 million doses to Sarawak before the end of August, doubly sufficient for the state’s estimated 2.4 million adults.

An estimated 380,000 doses will be sent to Sarawak beginning in June, until the 4.4 million doses have been achieved.

Both Putrajaya and Kuching have set a daily target of no less than 45,000 vaccinations, with a focus on opening new vaccination centres (PPV) and increasing its medical and non-medical manpower capacity throughout the state before the end of August.

The possibility of opening PPVs in industrial and agricultural areas including factories and plantations (ladang) was also discussed.

A new working committee has been established for these potential industrial and agricultural PPVs, so that its workers do not have to go to public PPVs and thus reduce the work burden of the public PPVs’ personnel.

Outreach mobile teams have also been formed to ensure those residing in rural or interior areas such as longhouses will not be left behind in the vaccination process.

The vaccination registration for Sarawak will be done in a hybrid manner, using both the MySejahtera app and manual registration, which will expedite the vaccination process in areas without full Internet access.