Asia

Malaysia's new PM Ismail urges citizens to get vaccinated in Independence Day message

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Monday (Aug 30) urged the people to get vaccinated soon to ensure “victory” in the prolonged battle with Covid-19.

In a nationwide address on the eve of Independence Day, the newly-installed premier said that vaccines had proved to have a positive impact in battling the pandemic.

“Based on data and facts, trust that only by the cooperation of all parties, this war against Covid-19 can end with a victory,” said Datuk Seri Ismail.

He also said that he wished that this was the last Independence Day for the country in the grip of the pandemic which has ravaged its health system as well as its economy.

“Let’s free our country from this pandemic, from our economic struggle, and from political uncertainty,” said the prime minister.

Mr Ismail was speaking after his 31 Cabinet ministers were sworn-in by the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, during a ceremony earlier in the day at the National Palace.

The new government is the second in less than two years following the resignation of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister after just 17 months on the job earlier this month. He had to quit after losing his majority in Parliament.

Mr Ismail however was unable to attend his Cabinet’s swearing-in ceremony, with the Prime Minister’s Office disclosing that he had been identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 patient and ordered to serve a 14-day home quarantine.

Malaysia has struggled with Covid-19 for most of this year and much of the country has faced economic restrictions and lockdowns since May this year.

Mr Ismail has already indicated his intention to reopen the economy gradually, while warning Malaysians that Covid-19 would become endemic and that they would need to learn to live with the coronavirus.

The country recorded 19,268 new infections on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 1.72 million since the pandemic started. Another 295 people died of Covid-19 on Monday, bringing the total death toll to 16,382.

But Malaysia can also boast of one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. It administered another 302,804 doses on Sunday, and has previously dispensed as many as half a million a day.

Official figures show 82.8 per cent of adults had received one dose of the vaccine, with 62.6 percent fully vaccinated. The government aims to finish vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of October.

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But infections have remained high despite the progress in vaccinations, partially due to the states with lower vaccination rates.

Eight Malaysian states on Monday recorded four-figure infection rates, with Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah, Johor and Selangor all recording more than 2,000 cases each. The other three – Kelantan, Penang and Perak – all recorded more than 1,000 infections.

Independence Day celebrations, including an airshow by the Royal Malaysian Air Force and other military displays, will take place in the administrative capital Putrajaya on Tuesday morning.

But the celebrations will be held in a controlled environment without any spectators. and Malaysians have been urged to watch the live telecast on national television stations.

Mr Ismail is also expected to join the celebrations virtually due to his home quarantine.

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