PETALING JAYA,Feb 24: The 15th general election could be held in the final quarter of 2021 after half of Malaysia’s population has been vaccinated, says science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Khairy said it was “not impossible” for the polls to be held some time this year, telling Channel News Asia in an exclusive interview that it could happen as early as September.
However, he said this depended on the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme’s success in vaccinating at least 50% to 60% of the population, and if health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah felt that “things were under control”.
Khairy, who is also the coordinating minister for the immunisation programme, said if all went well, the programme could even be wrapped up before the end of the year instead of early next year.
“I want to finish it by December, and for that we need to hit a peak of about 150,000 or 160,000 a day, provided we have the supplies,” he said, adding that there would be more than 600 vaccination centres nationwide by the third phase of the programme.
Khairy also said the government would continue with “non-pharmaceutical interventions”, as well as ensuring a robust testing and isolation protocol, while the vaccines take effect on the general population.
He explained that the sooner the country achieved this, the faster the economy could rebound.
“As a politician, I think it will also end the impasse we face now because we can then have a general election.”
Khairy also announced that he would be vaccinated when the next batch of vaccines arrive, to reassure the public that those vaccines are safe.
The first phase of the immunisation programme begins today, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Noor Hisham being the first two to receive the vaccine shots.
Malaysia received its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, comprising 312,390 doses, over the weekend. Another 182,520 doses will arrive today.
The first supply of the Sinovac vaccine is also scheduled to land in Malaysia on Saturday.