Former prime minister Najib Razak today trained his guns on Khairy Jamaluddin after the science, technology and innovation minister gave a lengthy explanation for the second time this month in response to accusations that the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is slow.
Khairy in his reply posted on Najib’s Facebook page had also taken Najib to task for cancelling an appointment for his own vaccination, which received a swift response from Najib.
The former leader, who alongside PKR president Anwar Ibrahim claims that the government’s vaccination programme will not achieve the herd immunity target earlier than initially planned, resorted to posting screenshots of news reports which showed Khairy and Perikatan Nasional leaders saying they would prefer to give way to others despite being in the first phase of vaccines recipients.
The move is seen as Najib trying to show that Khairy and other government leaders are out for publicity in delaying their vaccination.
“Perhaps I need to hold a press conference first,” Najib said in a one-line response to Khairy’s explanation.
Khairy, the minister in charge of Putrajaya’s massive vaccination programme, had previously said he would forego the Pfizer vaccine jab and wait for Sinovac, a move he said would convince sceptics of the efficacy of the Chinese brand.
Phase One of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) began with the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
This was supplemented by the Sinovac vaccine, the first dose of which was given to Khairy at Hospital Rembau in Negeri Sembilan today.
In his response to claims by Najib that Malaysia was lagging in its vaccination drive, Khairy revealed that Najib had cancelled his vaccination appointment on March 6 at his constituency of Pekan in Pahang.
“At the same time, I hope Dato’ Sri will also be able to help encourage more people in Pekan to register for vaccination given that right now, only 13,020 residents (equivalent to 14.4 people per capita) in Pekan have signed up so far.
“Don’t post and promote only on Facebook, but go down to the ground to encourage and boost registration.
“Only with a high level of registration will PICK succeed in achieving its goal,” Khairy wrote.
Khairy was among the Umno leaders who had been critical of Najib’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal, although he was forced to scale back when he was part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
Following BN’s downfall in 2018, Khairy, who was the Umno Youth leader, said he regretted not continuing his criticism of Najib over the scandal.
“After the election, I admit it was one of the shortcomings and weaknesses when Umno Youth did not continue to question or voice out on 1MDB,” he said in an interview with Astro Awani.