REGARDING Covid-19 immunisation efforts, Family Frontiers would like to highlight the serious need for the Malaysian government to ensure that permanent residents and noncitizen spouses and children of Malaysian citizens have access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Close to 150,000 spouse visas are issued by the Immigration Department annually, and given the rising infection rate, Family Frontiers requests that the following groups are included in the government’s vaccination programme along with Malaysian citizens: Noncitizen children with a parent who is a Malay-sian citizen; noncitizen spouses of Malaysian citizens; and permanent residents of Malaysia.
Vaccines protect the individual, community, and the healthcare system. Given that these individuals are immediate family members of Malaysian citizens and live with their Malaysian families, it is necessary to include them in the Covid-19 immunisation effort to ensure public health is not compromised. Granting these groups access to the vaccine will not just grant protection to these families but also to the wider community in which they live.
In the words of UN secretary- general Antonio Guterres, the vaccine has to be made available to “all people” and viewed as a “global public good”.
Family Frontiers notes that engagement with these groups since the start of the movement control order in 2020 shows that many of these Malaysian transnational families are facing severe financial crises and may not be able to afford the vaccine should there be higher costs imposed on vaccines for noncitizens.
Therefore, we hope the government is able to extend subsidies and cap the price at a reasonable level so that they are affordable for permanent residents and noncitizen spouses and children of Malaysian citizens accessing vaccines privately.
We hope that the government is gracious enough to not allow the situation of high quarantine charges imposed on noncitizen spouses and children (that until today prevents the reunion of many Malay-sian transnational families) to occur when implementing Covid-19 immunisation efforts.
Note: The Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers) acts as an umbrella body for the Foreign Spouses Support Group that supports and advocates for the rights of foreign spouses married to Malaysian citizens and mobilises action for the Malaysian Campaign for Equal Citizenship.