Saturday, September 25, 2021

Next govt must preserve current policies on battling Covid, Agong tells leaders

He says this includes the national vaccination programme and efforts to reach herd immunity in the country.

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In a reminder to top political leaders that the people are tired of political squabbling, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong today voiced hope that any new government to be formed will preserve the current policies and plans to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The plans under existing policies such as the implementation of development projects, programmes to tackle Covid-19 including the vaccination programme to reach herd immunity, as well as the national recovery plan must be maintained,” Istana Negara said in a statement, summarising Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah’s advice to political party chiefs yesterday.

The statement came ahead of a 4pm deadline for the country’s 220 MPs to submit their choice of prime minister to Istana Negara, to help the Agong decide who will fill the power vacuum left by Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation on Monday.

Muhyiddin resigned following intense pressure from former leader Najib Razak and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who led a campaign among MPs in their party to revoke support for the Perikatan Nasional government.

Yesterday, Sultan Abdullah and Deputy Agong Sultan Nazrin Shah met the top leaders of political parties from across the divide, urging them to bring down the political temperature as the country continues its 18-month battle with the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the statement today, Istana Negara said the Agong also told MPs that the new prime minister would be selected based on the constitution.

He said MPs should serve with honesty for the sake of the people’s welfare.

“The majority of frontliners are exhausted dealing with thousands of new Covid-19 patients every day. Indeed, the country’s health facilities are in a dire situation,” the statement said.

The palace statement further said that the political turmoil had deeply affected the economy, with the pandemic making it impossible to find a solution through a general election.

Days after he was sworn in as prime minister, Muhyiddin announced a total lockdown due to the Covid-19 situation. The move forced the government to spend billions of ringgit in various stimulus packages to help businesses and workers survive the impact of measures to contain the pandemic.

The former government had also undertaken a massive vaccination programme which has so far fully inoculated nearly 35% of the population, with its daily vaccines delivery rate earning global praise.

Muhyiddin had also introduced the National Recovery Plan, with the goal of gradually reopening economic and social activities.

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