Kuala Lumpur, Friday, 16 October – YB Khairy Jamaluddin expressed frustration at the current state of politics during his interview on BFM 89.9’s Breakfast Grille this morning. He said, “There are many of us in government who are for doing the work, who are focused on trying to get through this pandemic, whether it’s the health crisis, whether it’s the economic crisis… We are bewildered by the sort of statements, and again, the manoeuvres that are taking place. So my message is to all the politicians who are planning and scheming – stop the nonsense.”
In recent weeks, the stability of the Malaysian government has once again been called into question as Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim has claimed a majority backing from MPs and calls have risen for a vote of no-confidence against the current prime minister. However, according to Khairy, the timing could not be worse as the political power struggle is happening in the midst of the third Covid-19 wave.
When asked about his views on the matter, Khairy was firm in his focus that the priority should be managing the containment and prevention of Covid-19.
“This is a life and death situation right now. I am consumed almost 24/7 trying to secure [a] Covid-19 vaccine for Malaysians. Stop all this nonsense. If you have the numbers – and once the palace accepts audiences – then by all means, show your numbers and get on with it. But if you don’t have the numbers, then bugger off.”
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) has been focused on procuring the Covid-19 vaccine for Malaysia and it was revealed that Malaysia hopes to formally join the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI) by November. GAVI is a global alliance established to get access to a portfolio of vaccines for Covid-19, which it terms as the Covax facility. GAVI has 64 countries formally signed up so far with another 38 countries in the final stages of the agreement.
In the ASEAN region, Thailand and Malaysia are the only 2 countries that have yet to formalise their participation in the Covax facility. Khairy pointed out that cost is a factor, as Malaysia is ranked as an upper middle income country and does not qualify for reduced rates for the vaccine. But there has also been procurement policy difficulties, as current Malaysian procurement rules do not accommodate products that are not yet in existence.
However, Khairy affirmed that Covax is only one of the pillars in a multi-pronged strategy. MOSTI has also been working on bilateral agreements with individual pharmaceutical companies and been in active discussions with the Chinese government with regard to procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
In terms of who will be prioritised to receive the vaccine, Khairy said he will follow WHO guidelines. Healthcare and social care workers at the frontline of the pandemic will be first, followed by teachers, policemen, and other security staff, then high-risk groups, such as those aged 60 and above.
Khairy also revealed that he has made recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister that the cost of the first round of vaccines for all Malaysians and possibly permanent residents, be borne by the Government. In addition, he is advocating for an allocation of RM 3 billion in Budget 2021 for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine, which should cover the needs of about 70% of the population at a blended pricing model of USD10 per dose.
Discussions are underway with Pharmaniaga Bhd and Duopharma Biotech Bhd, and soon with other private sector players, on investing in the fill and finish stage of the vaccine in Malaysia.
To the question of whether politicians should be the first to get the vaccine in order to prove its efficacy, Khairy said that they would likely be part of the second stage.
When pressed about his political alliances, Khairy categorically denied being part of Anwar Ibrahim’s list of MPs and cautioned against pushing for a general election in this climate.
“As the Minister of Science, I want to say clearly that having a general election right now, in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 infections is absolutely irresponsible, and if you ask me as a politician, my answer is listen to the science”.
With regard to the legitimacy of the current administration, Khairy said that the Pakatan Harapan goverment itself committed politicial suicide. In order to fill the void, the King followed the constitution, and appointed a legitimate government.
“To me, it is a functional government”, said Khairy.
The BFM interview with YB Khairy Jamaluddin will be repeated later today, Friday 16 October 2020 at 1pm on BFM 89.9. The podcast of the full interview will be available for download on the BFM app at noon. This interview was conducted by Wong Shou Ning, who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org