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GRS lacks foresight and seriousness to curb pandemic in Penampang - Darell Leiking

Datuk Darell Leiking

14 Aug 2021

PENAMPANG: Penampang MP Datuk Darell Leiking has today slammed the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) Government for its lack of foresight and seriousness in curbing the Covid-19 spread in his constituency.

"Less than two weeks ago, several Penampang folks including myself had reminded the GRS-led State Government to act quickly to contain the rising cases in the district.

"In fact, some suggestions were given such as the introduction of 'Prioritised Appointment' in whereby the Government deployed grassroots leaders to identify and furnish the names of those who have yet to receive their vaccination despite the long wait to the Officer in Charge at PPVs (Vaccination Centres).

"This could have also further enhanced the 'Walk-In-Vaccination Programme' since mobilising teams from the Ministry of Health (MoH) can be deployed and vaccinate at the respective villages more quickly and efficiently," he said in a statement today.

According to Darell who is also the Deputy President of Warisan, there was also a suggestion that the State Government introduce a 'community monitoring and enforcement' by requesting these grassroots leaders to make rounds in their respective villages to prevent villagers from flouting SOPs, but the ideas were put aside.

"Instead, GRS enforced restrictions that only those who received full vaccination be allowed to buy essential goods at hypermarkets, enter shopping malls or eat at restaurants.

"While these restrictions in nature are no different from the two full lockdowns that the State experienced before, it (the restrictions) is definitely not the end that we wanted which is the herd immunity through 80 per cent vaccination.

"Hence, if the vaccination process is slow, then all these restrictions will continue indefinitely or intermittently because Sabah will still be subject to new clusters here and there - this is grossly unfair to the hundred thousands of Sabahans who will continuously be denied of their rights to buy essential goods at hypermarkets, work as cashiers or sales assistants in shopping malls or eat in restaurants with their friends all because the GRS-led State Government is unable to push for the herd immunity expediently and effectively.

"And with intermittent restrictions, the biggest loser would amongst others undoubtedly be the tourism sector in Sabah where bookings will always be made prior to visitors actually setting foot in the State so if the GRS-led State Government is slow in achieving the immunity herd, then the tourism players will have to continue to brace themselves for dark period."

Darell asserted that the State Government needs to show its resolute firmness and assertiveness when dealing with the Federal Government, in the same tenacity that Warisan President Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal did during his tenure as Chief Minister.

The State Government must also invoke its inherent Rights to Demand for the Federal Government to immediately despatch, without a single day delay, the much-needed vaccine doses as the war against the pandemic in Sabah is failing day by day, he added.

Meanwhile, the Event Chairperson of Penampang Act of Kindness Association (PAKA), Batholomew Jingulam said the association is monitoring the rising cases in Penampang and appealed to everyone to practice self-discipline in maintaining SOPs.

At the same time, it expressed hope that the State Government will not only expedite but force procure vaccines and enhance the vaccination process in the State.

"We are now living with the virus and the severity of the situation tells us that self-discipline by all is paramount especially in adhering to SOPs but we now see how this awareness is lacking among the population even at PPVs offering walk-in vaccinations.

"It takes two to tango - while we bemoan the lack of awareness of SOPs within the people at the walk-in PPVs, this should have been anticipated earlier by the authorities and their several months experience in the vaccination process could have done more to ensure SOPs are enforced strictly at the PPVs.

"In the meantime, the State Government must now treat the vaccination process as a "Red Alert situation" as the Covid Infection is today Sabah's clear and present danger - we Sabahans must also demand this Government to act now and without any excuses so we can achieve the herd immunity and not to overly dependent on enhanced movement control or total lockdown to contain the pandemic."

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