KOTA KINABALU: The King granted an online audience with the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) President Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan on Monday morning to discuss COVID-19 and the emergency.
In a statement today, Kitingan said during his meeting with Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, he addressed the king about his recommendations on how the government could solve the pandemic crisis.
“I informed the king that the ‘emergency’ status should be maintained for the time being until the situation is stabilised. The rest of the problems, including security and politics, will resolve on their own.
“I also emphasised the lessons we can all take from Sabah where the snap election in September last year triggered the third wave of the COVID-19 in Malaysia.
“Even after almost nine months, this third wave still has not shown any sign of abating,” he said.
The Deputy Chief Minister said the current pandemic situation in Malaysia should not be viewed in isolation but rather in comparison to the rest of the world.
He pointed out that Malaysia is not the only country in the world that has declared a state of emergency to deal with the crisis, as more than 70 other countries have taken similar steps to combat COVID-19.
At the same time, Kitingan said the vaccination programme in Sabah is extremely slow and one of the reasons for this lag is the region’s poor infrastructure, especially its inferior telecommunication system.
“There is an urgent need to step up the vaccination awareness programme, and the Sabah government is doing all it can to assist the people both socially and economically.
“In my opinion, vaccination centres should be made more accessible, and all public, private and rural health clinics should have access to the vaccine,” he said.
Another way, he suggested that the health ministry may follow other countries’ example, such as India, by providing mobile vaccination to spearhead the drive in the rural areas.
Kitingan said other than these issues, the monarch made it clear that he did not wish to discuss politics during the meeting.
In his closing remark, the king thanked Kitingan for his proposals and wished Sabah the best in the region’s fight against the pandemic.