KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — A majority of MPs have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine says Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
He said another 35 MPs had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while four had not been vaccinated for certain reasons, however they were still allowed to attend the Dewan Rakyat sittings.
“All MPs are allowed to come to the Parliament even if they are not vaccinated, however, we advise those who are not vaccinated to be careful, because we cannot stop them from performing their duties under the Federal Constitution,” he said during a virtual press conference detailing the preparations for the Special Parliament sitting which begins Monday.
Azhar said he had previously held discussions with National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who agreed that all parliamentary staff should be vaccinated, and so far, 90 per cent of them had received both shots.
Commenting on the preparations for the sitting, Azhar said the Parliament had set certain ‘house rules’, among which was to ensure that every individual who came to Parliament, including contractors, ministry staff and ministerial escort officers had been vaccinated.
“If they are not vaccinated, we will not allow them to enter,” he said.
As a security measure, Azhar said every individual including MPs, officers on duty, parliamentary staff, media personnel, contractors’ workers, drivers and body guards would have to undergo a swab test.
A total of 1,008 people underwent screening tests two days ago, while all MPs were screened today.
A special session of the Dewan Rakyat will be held for five days beginning July 26, while the Dewan Negara will convene for three days beginning Aug 3.
Meanwhile, Azhar in a statement said that only 72 media personnel would be allowed to be present at the Parliament building, adding that this was part of measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
In addition, he said Parliament had also prepared hybrid press conference platform facilities and exclusive interactive interview sessions with MPs through the Zoom application.
“These virtual press conferences and interviews will provide an opportunity for all media personnel who are unable to be physically present at the Parliament building to participate in all press conferences or interviews that may be held by any MP during the special session,” he said.
Azhar said Parliament would provide a special room that housed two computers and audio visual equipment with dedicated Zoom links, and members of the media could contact the press secretary to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker or the Corporate Communications Division of Parliament if they wished to hold interactive sessions with MPs.
Meanwhile, he said all important photos during the conference would be taken by officially appointed photographers from the Parliament and the Malaysian Information Department.
“I hope this new media management approach can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, especially among media practitioners,” he said.