KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's coordinating minister for COVID-19 immunisation programme Khairy Jamaluddin dismissed accusations that the federal government has stonewalled attempts by state governments to procure vaccines.
In a statement on Wednesday (Apr 21), Mr Khairy said claims by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim that Selangor had "waited for months" for federal approval to purchase vaccines were not true.
"In my discussion with the Selangor chief minister, he had stated verbally Selangor's plan to purchase vaccines."
"I had given a positive response. Even so, I have not received any official request from the state government until now," he said.
On Tuesday, Mr Anwar claimed that the federal government had stonewalled attempts by the Selangor and Sarawak state governments as well as private entities to procure their own government-approved vaccine supplies.
The Selangor government is led by Mr Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
In response, Mr Khairy said he had had a few engagement sessions with Sarawak's deputy chief minister Douglas Uggah Embas and informed the latter that the federal supply was sufficient to sustain the immunisation programme in Sarawak.
The minister added that he had responded positively to the Sarawak state government's plan to purchase vaccines, but on condition that the vaccines had to be registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority.
Mr Khairy, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, explained that the country's immunisation programme was being carried out in phases since Feb 14, as announced previously.
"The immunisation programme's planning was made taking into account vaccine delivery schedules given by the manufacturers. These schedules were also announced before," he said.
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He reiterated that Malaysia's vaccine supplies would ramp up starting from June, in line with the start of the country's third phase of mass vaccination.
"I am always open to questions, criticism and investigation," Mr Khairy said in his statement, explaining that he had shown vaccine purchase contracts and delivery schedules to the Malaysian parliament's Public Accounts Committee earlier this year.
The minister said he had also held an engagement session with opposition Members of Parliament on the national immunisation plan on Mar 19, adding that Mr Anwar was not present at this session.
Malaysia hoped to achieve herd immunity through vaccinating 80 per cent of its 32 million population. The first phase of the immunisation programme involved politicians and frontliners.
The second phase of Malaysia's COVID-19 immunisation programme began on Monday, targeting over 3 million registered senior citizens and those with disabilities and co-morbidities.
More than 9 million people have registered for vaccination thus far, about a third of the 80 per cent goal.