Covid-19 vaccine: All must have same view

SEPANG – All parties, including celebrity preachers, have been urged to have a similar or uniform view on the permissible use of the Covid-19 vaccine, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

He said that a decision on the use of the COVID-19 vaccine was made in a special meeting of the Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs on Dec 3, which took into account the views of all parties, including scholars and authorities.

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“We want all to have a uniform view (on the use of vaccine) because this (view) is not solely mine but of that scholars, and not just in Malaysia. References are made for the ummah as a whole and the Arab countries agree on this method,” he told reporters after holding a meeting with 80 celebrity preachers here, today.

Speaking at the event, Zulkifli asked celebrity preachers with good recommendations or suggestions on any matter including the use of vaccines to present it appropriately.

“In facing the COVID-19 issue, my only specific request, is that we unite in our thoughts. Avoid misunderstanding among us because we have a big problem which is to protect the people from this epidemic.

“If there are good recommendations or suggestions, submit them appropriately and not during talks or on social media” he said.

Yesterday, Zulkifli said that a special meeting of the Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs on Dec 3 had decided that the use of the COVID-19 vaccine is permissible (harus) and obligatory (wajib) for groups which have been identified by the government.

This decision was also being presented to the Conference of Rulers, and the use of vaccines to protect people from being infected with dangerous diseases is not a foreign matter in the Islamic perspective, he said.

During the meeting, Zulkifli reminded celebrity preachers to always protect their image and self-esteem and avoid any controversy.

“We hope there will be a light in 2021 and we will not hear any more controversies (involving celebrity preachers),” he said.

Risk if agreement breached

Meanwhile in a related development, a lawyer has said that the country may face the risk of getting its Covid-19 vaccine purchase and procurement agreement revoked, if the country is found to be in breach of the confidentiality requirements set by the vaccine manufacturer.

Explaining the matter, lawyer Wan Azmir Wan Majid said if the condition of confidentiality or ‘non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a proposal from the vaccine manufacturer, the country has no choice but to comply with the condition.

He said in the event of a breach of the stipulated conditions, the defaulter may be subject to action and the principal agreement (vaccine purchase agreement) may be revoked.

“The NDA is a contract that contains the terms that bind a matter or deed a secret. The effect of confidentiality obligations will also be set out in the NDA.

“All terms will be written in the NDA (agreement) including the consequences of default to the NDA,” he said when contacted by Bernama, today.

He also did not rule out the possibility that the government may also face other risks, including being sued by the vaccine manufacturer if found to be in breach of the conditions.

Therefore, he advised it should be understood that there are matters that can be disclosed to the public and some that need to be kept confidential in accordance with the terms of the agreement that has been agreed by the two parties involved.

At the press conference on the development of COVID-19 vaccine acquisition in Putrajaya yesterday, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said he was ready to brief the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccine including the cost in detail.

However, he stressed that the committee members must abide by the confidentiality requirements set by the vaccine manufacturer because Malaysia is subject to the confidentiality requirements set by the companies involved.

He said the condition of the confidentiality was made by the vaccine manufacturer, therefore if there is a breach of the condition it will affect the agreement with the company involved.

The issue regarding the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccine, also received public attention, especially among social media users who, among others, want the government to be more transparent by disclosing the vaccine acquisition agreement.

— BERNAMA