Asean must ensure Covid-19 vaccine affordable, accessible to all, says Muhyiddin

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin takes part in the 36th Asean Summit, held virtually and hosted by Vietnam, today. (Bernama pic).

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean must ensure that a vaccine against Covid-19, when available, must be affordable, accessible and equitably shared for all, said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said as Asean endeavours to protect its communities against the serious threat of Covid-19, a vaccine is sorely needed.

“While progress on the development of a vaccine and antiviral medicine has been encouraging, we must ensure that when the time comes, the vaccine must be affordable, accessible and equitably shared for all,” Muhyiddin said at the 36th Asean Summit, held virtually and hosted by Vietnam.

Muhyiddin, who joined the virtual summit from Putrajaya, said that as of yesterday, more than 138,000 cases of Covid-19 had been reported in Asean, with over 4,000 deaths.

He said Malaysia appreciated the initiative taken by Vietnam, as Asean chair, in convening today’s summit via video-conference against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This truly is a historic moment for us in Asean. Our deliberations today bear testament to Asean’s resolve in building a cohesive and responsive community, in line with the theme of Vietnam’s chairmanship,” he said.

“Malaysia is confident that under the able leadership of Vietnam, Asean will be able to achieve significant outcomes this year, notwithstanding the unprecedented circumstances surrounding Covid-19.”

Muhyiddin said Asean governments must materialise cohesive plans to quickly implement measures or “travel bubbles” between “green” member states amid the pandemic to shore up investments and create job opportunities.

Possibly in the near future, the region can also open up the borders for intra-Asean tourism to flourish and deliver the much-needed financial boost into the national economies, he said.

‘Make South China Sea a sea of peace and trade’

Muhyiddin said Malaysia’s position regarding the South China Sea has been clear and consistent, with views it should remain a sea of peace and trade.

“Malaysia holds the view that the South China Sea should remain a sea of peace and trade.

“Thus, matters relating to the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully based on universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” he said.

He said recognising the complexity and sensitivity of the issue, all parties must continue to work together to maintain peace, security and stability in the South China Sea.

“In these times of adversity, it is imperative that we intensify efforts to build, maintain and enhance mutual trust and confidence for the benefit of our region and peoples,” he said.

Muhyiddin also raised the Palestine issue during the summit, where Malaysia is deeply concerned over the fate of the Palestinians amid the continued volatility in the Middle East.

“Malaysia strongly condemns and rejects Israel’s recent announcement to implement its plan to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank,” he said.

He said the illegal and unilateral action by Israel clearly calls into question its sincerity towards a peaceful and lasting solution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It also further diminishes the prospect of a two-state solution, which is supported by the international community,” he said.

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