Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 17th of July, 2021

Thankful for the opportunity to play a constructive role in Operation Surge Capacity in the Klang Valley

I would like to thank YAB, Dato Seri Amirudin Shari, Menteri Besar of Selangor, for giving me the opportunity to coordinate the ramp up of COVID19 vaccinations among the industry in Selangor together with the relevant federal agencies as part of “Operation Surge Capacity” (OSC).[1] The purpose of OSC is to ensure that every single adult in the Klang Valley (Selangor and KL) receives at least ONE dose of one of the COVID19 vaccines by the 1st of August. I would also like to express my thanks to the Coordinating Minister for the COVID19 vaccine rollout, YB Khairy Jamaluddin for agreeing to this appointment and for his initiative in coming up with OSC in light of the high number of cases in the Klang Valley over the past two weeks.[2] I look forward to working with Dato’ Teng Chang Kim, who is overseeing the rollout of the SELVAX Industry program in Selangor, and his capable team at SELCARE and also Senator Dato’ Lim Ban Hong, Deputy Minister of MITI, who is overseeing the rollout of the PIKAS program for the manufacturing sector in Malaysia, and his capable team at MITI.

There is still much work to be done to prepare for this ramp up which will see 1.3m doses of vaccines being administered from the 26th of July to the 1st of August 2021 out of which 500,000 doses will be administered for industry workers (250,000 for SELVAX Industry and 250,000 for MITI’s PIKAS). This means that the daily capacity in the Klang Valley will have to be increased from 180,000 daily doses currently (14th to 18th of July) to 210,000 daily doses (from 19th to the 25th of July) and then to at least 272,000 daily doses from the 26th of July to the 1st of August 2021 (Diagram 1 below). This would require an increase in the daily doses administered by the current PPVs under PICK, in the existing 5 sites that are already operating under SELVAX Industry and in the current and soon to be opened PIKAS sites in Selangor and KL.

MITI and SELCARE (who runs the SELVAX Industry program) will have to coordinate to minimize the amount of overlap between companies that want to get their workers vaccinated during the OSC. There also needs to be clear communication by MITI and SELCARE for those companies which have signed up for both programs (SELVAX Industry and PIKAS) and those who have yet to sign up for any program. For example, those who are willing and able to pay for the SELVAX Industry program should remain committed to this program while those who may not be able to afford the SELVAX Industry program can wait and / or apply for the MITI PIKAS program. More PIKAS and SELVAX Industry vaccination sites may have to be opened to cater to the increase in the number of vaccinations.

SELCARE will also have to work MySejahtera to push for those who have been vaccinated under the SELVAX program to have their MySejahtera status updated as soon as possible so that these individuals won’t be allocated slots by MySejahtera to go for their vaccination appointments. The ability of MySejatera to update its database to reflect the SELVAX vaccinations is especially important in impacting the ability of OSC to reach its objective of reaching full vaccination in the Klang Valley by the 1st of August.

Other details will have to be worked out by all of the stakeholders next week, before the OSC begins full force on the week starting 26th of July, 2021. We must work together closely and put politics aside in order for the OSC to work so as to bring down the number of COVID19 daily cases and more importantly, those with serious COVID19 cases and needs to be hospitalized and put in the ICU.

Diagram 1: Key figures in Operation Surge Capacity (OSC) to achieve full vaccination among adults 18 and over in the Klang Valley (Selangor and KL)

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Source: CITF


[2] (Minute 10) and

Media Statement on the cost and rollout of the National Covid19 Immunisation Program (NCIP / PICK)

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming (Bangi), Steven Sim (Bukit Mertajam) & Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (Bandar Kuching) on the 3rd of May, 2021

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) fully supports the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP / PICK) and urges the government to accelerate its implementation in order for us to protect the health of the people and also to restore the country’s economy.

However, we express concerns over the lack of transparency with regards to the government’s recent decision to pass an emergency ordinance allowing it to tap into the National Trust Fund (KWAN) reportedly for the procurement of vaccines and related expenditures.
The RM 5 billion that is being used represents almost 30% of the estimated RM17.4b within the Fund, and that is why utmost transparency and accountability is needed to instil public confidence, avoid wastage, mismanagement, and abuse. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary transparency. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary transparency.

The fact that the government needs to tap into the National Trust Fund also points to the need for the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) to reconvene since when the Vaccine rollout Coordinating Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin and Health Minister Adham Baba, first met the PAC on the 5th of January, 2021, there was no mention of using funds from the National Trust Fund up to the tune of RM5 billion to fund the procurement and rollout of the various COVID19 vaccines. For the PAC to reconvene, the emergency must be lifted and parliament must be allowed to sit again.

Without the option of parliament or the PAC as a channel to ask more detailed questions with regards to the spending on the NCIP / PICK, we secured a meeting with Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to get a clearer breakdown of the RM 5 billion expenditure for proper scrutiny as well as raise certain pertinent issues to improve the progress of the NCIP / PICK.

Among the issues pertaining to the RM5 billion expenditure allocated to the NCIP / PICK, including the procurement of vaccines, are the following:

1. We take note that up to RM1.5 billion has been allocated for the rollout of the COVID19 vaccine including setting up various large scale vaccination sites across the country (“Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPVs)”) for RM280 million, Sanitation and Cleaning Services (RM100 million), Community Outreach and Advocacy (RM55 million), just to name a few examples. We want to know, how many of these large scale contracts were awarded via open tender? Did they go through the usual e-perolehan process or were they awarded via directo negotiation or limited tender? Given the scale of the expenditure involved, it is only right that MPs are able to ask for this information to be disclosed, as we would have requested were parliament in session.

2. At the same time, we question the total amount allocated for “allowances” (the word “saguhati” is a term used in the Ministry of Finance terminology and actually means “allowances”) for both medical and non-medical volunteers amounting to RM347 million. There has to be a breakdown on how many volunteers this involves and the expected allowances to be paid out per volunteer including civil servants who will be stationed at the PPVs.

3. Furthermore, we question the total allocation for Data Integration & Appointment System, and post-inoculations evaluations which amounts to a total of RM85 million. We request a clear breakdown of such expenditure and question the need for such a sum especially since there is already the existence of MySejahtera, and other existing dashboard and database.

4. In addition, we want to raise the issue of how the RM55 million for community programs and vaccination outreach is being used especially since the total registration rate is approximately 39% of the targeted population (as of the 1st of May) or 9.5 million persons. What other methods is the Ministry planning to roll out in order to incentivize the rest of the population to register for the vaccine?

5. On top of that, based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates from “COVAX Working Group on Delivery Cost, the recommended budgeting for both innovations and post-introduction evaluations for a total of 1 billion doses or a 500 million population is at USD 91.2 million. This covers data integration, digital micro-planning, appointment systems, post-immunisation evaluation and others (items 6+9 in the expenditure chart released by the Ministry.) If we take that into account in our local context and our country’s target of vaccinating 28 million (80%) of our population, the total recommended cost for such items should only be at RM 21.45 million, which is almost a quarter of the amount allocated based on the public statement released by the Ministry.

That is why we question the sum allocated and ask for greater transparency contractors involved, job scope and deliverables to avoid risk of abuse and over-profiteering.

With regard to vaccine administration and deployment, we have the following questions:

1. We want to know why is it that so many high-risk groups including the elderly and those with comorbidities that have registered earlier are not getting their appointment dates especially in the Klang Valley? This includes safeguards to ensure State Governments do not overstep and prioritise groups outside of the recommended groups just like what happened in Pahang. We also suggested improvements on notifications especially for the elderly group that may not be too familiar with the MySejahtera app.

2. We also want to know the government’s position on introducing parallel and multi-streams vaccination drive by including both the State Governments and the private sectors. The Federal Government should also just allow but offer assistance to the State Governments and Private Sector to procure additional vaccines especially from the international manufacturers to accelerate the process in order for us to achieve our target herd immunity. We hope that the issue of state governments procuring supplies of the vaccines for themselves to deploy can be expedited by the federal government once the official request has been sent by the respective state governments, including the most populous state in Malaysia, namely Selangor and also the largest state in Malaysia in terms of land size, Sarawak and the most important state in terms of E&E exports, namely Penang.

3. We also want to know the government’s strategy on improving and enhancing logistical improvements including better transportation of vaccines from Vaccine Storage Centres (PSV) to the selected Vaccine Distribution Centres (PPV) especially the rural areas of Sabah & Sarawak.

4. In addition, we want to know the latest absentee rate figures and the amount of Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines which have been “waste” because those whose appointments had been set did not show up and not enough volunteers to take those shots could be contacted in time.

5. The government has decided to rebottle Sinovac vaccines locally after buying the stock in bulk from China. While this decision was taken to promote technology transfer, rebottling the vaccine locally is totally different from manufacturing the vaccine locally. Rebottling involves only the packaging of finished goods and not the production of the goods itself. In fact, rebottling may affect the speed of production, integrity of the vaccine and even create unnecessary layers of middle-men. Earlier news reports have stated that locally manufactured vaccines can be ready and supplied to hospitals by the end of March. This does not seem to be happening. Will the government continue to rebottle Sinovac, and other vaccines in the future, locally? How much additional cost this involves instead of buying the finished goods directly from source manufacturers? And what is the status of the government’s plan to manufacture vaccines locally?

6. Finally, we also want a full explanation on the challenges faced by people wanting to register to take the Astra Zeneca vaccine on a voluntary basis. Especially important is what the government will do to enhance this system for the next round of AZ vaccines when they arrive in Malaysia, hopefully in June or thereabouts.

We urge for the Prime Minister to reconvene Parliament to allow such important decisions to be debated and scrutinised. The Parliamentary Select Committee should also be allowed to provide parliamentary oversight over the rollout and approach towards the pandemic. During this pandemic, where billions of public funds of money is being used, it is of utmost importance that all matters, procedures and financial procedures of the country are complied, to make sure that people’s money is really being spent prudently and efficiently.

We must be allowed to play an effective role in providing a ‘check and balance’ mechanism in the democratic system to the Government to promote the spirit of transparency and accountability, especially during this period. To repeat, “extraordinary times calls for extraordinary transparency”.

We had a fruitful and productive meeting with Minister Khairy today from 130pm to 2.45pm. Many of our questions were answered and the Minister also said that he would supply as much of the detailed breakdown of the expenditure items as possible. We look forward to his official reply to us and to the public.

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Dr. Kelvin Yii, Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching and Member of the Health, Science and Innovation Parliamentary Special Select Committee, issued on the 16th of April 2021

10 Questions for YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Coordinating Minister for the National COVID19 Vaccination Program (PICK)

In the leadup to the start of Phase 2 of the National COVID19 Vaccination Program or otherwise known as PICK in BM, there are many questions which need to be asked and hopefully answered. We commend the job which the Coordinating Minister has carried out thus far under challenging circumstances. We hope that he can respond to the following 10 questions as Phase 2 of PICK starts on Monday, the 19th of April, 2021.

1.What is the geographical distribution of those above 60 who have yet to register for the COVID19 vaccine?

The Minister has stated previously that due to the lower than expected vaccine registration rates among those who are 60 and above, Phase 3 registrants will be vaccinated together with those who are scheduled for vaccination under Phase 2. He was also reported as saying, on the 29th of March, 2021, that only two million senior citizens have registered for Phase 2 of the vaccination program representing only 22% of the target.[1] This means there are approximately 7 million senior citizens who have yet to register for the vaccine.

At the time of writing, we don’t know which states/districts they may possibly be located in.

This would be useful information for us to know so that more targeted efforts can be used in order to get more senior citizens to be registered for the vaccine.

2. What steps have been taken to work with state governments in order to increase the vaccine registration rate?

State governments have access to some data for those who are aged 60 and above. For example, in Selangor, those who are 60 and above are eligible to be registered under the Skim Mesra Usia Emas (SMUE)[2]. In Penang, there is the senior citizen’s acknowledgment program in which all senior citizens above 60 are eligible.[3] As far as we know, there has not been any concerted effort to work with the state governments such as Selangor and Penang to mobilize the state government machinery, the elected representatives, and NGOs to register these senior citizens based on existing databases.

Of course, the state governments can mobilize on their own without any initiation on the part of the federal government but given that the federal government is taking the lead on this program, it would be very helpful and perhaps even necessary for the federal government to take the initiative, give the endorsement for and cooperate with the respective state governments to take the necessary actions to register as many senior citizens as possible for the COVID19 vaccine.

3.Will the two week notice for vaccine takers which was initially promised by the Minister be followed? What other measures can be used to reach out to those who haven’t confirmed their appointments via their MySejahtera app?

The Minister promised, on the 29th of March, 2021 that those who have their vaccination appointments during Phase 2 of PICK will be given a 2 week notification via the MySejahtera application, phone calls, and SMS. Anecdotal evidence thus far seems to indicate that many people have not received any notifications yet via one or more of the channels indicated by the Minister. [4] Many people are feeling anxious and are checking their MySejahtera app regularly either for themselves or for their dependents/parents (Dr. Ong registered his mother as his dependent but has yet to receive any notification of the date of vaccination. Dr. Ong helped his father register via his own MySejahtera app and according to the JKJAV website[5], his appointment is still pending). At the other end of the scale are those senior citizens who are not technology savvy and probably had someone else register them for the COVDI 19 vaccine and who have yet to respond to their MySejahtera and/or SMS notification. The Minister indicated as much when it was reported on the 12th of April that more than half of those initially notified have not responded to confirm their appointment dates.[6]

We need to understand the reasons for the low response rate if we are to increase the positive response rate. Other than not being tech-savvy, the issue of some senior citizens not being able to read and understand BM could also be another reason. Solutions such as voice messages, in more than one language, could be used moving forward.

4.Has the list of vaccination centers been confirmed? Will they be published soon?

At the time of writing, the full list of vaccination locations by the state for Phase 2 of PICK has not been publicly announced yet.

Although each person will be given the clinic / exact location of where they will receive their vaccination, it would be useful if the full list of vaccination locations are published so that those who have their doubts about the location can refer to a verified list. This should include private clinics and hospitals which have signed up to be part of the vaccination program.

5.Will there be translations for senior citizens who may not be very well-versed in BM? Will other assistance also be provided for those who are illiterate?

The process of vaccination will be challenging for those senior citizens who are illiterate, hard of hearing, have bad eyesight and/or are not so well-versed in BM. There are many forms to be completed, apps to be scanned and also one briefing to listen to. It would not be surprising to us if some senior citizens find the entire process too stressful and this may affect their physical health before, during and after taking the vaccine. Hopefully, at each of the vaccination locations, such issues would have already been considered and sufficient steps are undertaken to minimize the stress for the senior citizens.

6.Do we have sufficient manpower to increase the number of vaccinations per day for four-fold from 40,000 per day to 160,000 per day?

During Phase 1 of PICK, the average number of daily vaccinations was less than 40,000. The target for Phase 2 is 160,000 per day. Do we have the capacity in terms of nurses and doctors to ramp up to this number? Even with the inclusion of private GPs and hospitals in the vaccination process?

7.Are there any contingency plans in place to have “volunteers” to be vaccinated in case those who are confirmed their registration do not show up?

One would expect there to be some absenteeism among those who have confirmed their appointments based on the experience of other countries. The strategy or SOP in many of these countries is to have a queuing system or database where people can be informed if there are leftover vaccines that must be used before they expire in case there are people who do not show up for their appointments.

As far as we know, there is no such system in place in Malaysia. But we feel that this is a necessary step in the vaccination process so that vaccine wastage can be minimized.

8. How will the supply of COVID19 be affected by continued uncertainties?

The Minister has said that we have sufficient supplies of COVID19 vaccines to cover more than 80% of the population (including foreign workers), which is the percentage needed to achieve herd immunity.[7] But there remain outstanding concerns with regards to the authorisation of the SPUTNIK vaccine by NPRA (very few countries seemed to have authorized its usage) and also ongoing concerns on the small risk of developing blood clots via the Astra Zeneca vaccine which have made some countries like Denmark stop the use of the AZ vaccine (at least for now).

What contingency plans does the Minister have in order to address some of these issues with regards to the supply of some of these vaccines? Will there be any further delays in the supply of some of these vaccines because of vaccine nationalism on the part of the EU and India?

9.Can vaccination be made compulsory? Is this constitutional? What other methods can be used e.g. vaccine passport and allowance for activities?

The Minister was reported to have said, on the 9th of April, that vaccine registration could be made compulsory if the numbers of vaccine registrations remain low.[8] Is this legal and constitutional? We take note that even taking the BCG vaccine jabs are not compulsory for kids who go to school. Can vaccine registration and later vaccine inoculation be made compulsory?

Surely other incentives such as allowing those who have been vaccinated to do certain activities e.g. vaccine passports should be considered before a move for compulsory vaccination be made.

10.How effective and efficient is the COVID19 call center? Does it require more resources in terms of more callers who can speak different languages to call up those whose appointments are upcoming? Can we utilize technology such as chatbots and Artificial Intelligence to respond to queries on Phase 2 and Phase 3 appointments?

There is supposed to be a COVID19 vaccination call center but we are not sure as to how well it is functioning. At the time of writing, we do not know how many people are manning this call center, whether this number of people is sufficient, which ministries they are from (or this function has been outsourced to a private company), what training this group of people have received and so on. We would definitely be interested to visit this call center so that we can better understand how well it is functioning. And if we feel that there need to be more resources allocated to this call center, we would definitely support the Coordinating Minister’s appeal for more funding and other useful resources.