US, China positive about Asean producing Covid-19 vaccine, says Hisham

Hishammuddin Hussein speaking at the 53rd anniversary of the setting up of Asean at Wisma Putra today.

PUTRAJAYA: Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said today US Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi seemed “positive” about Malaysia and Asean’s intention to manufacture and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, when it’s ready, in Asean countries.

He said, in a diplomatic call with Pompeo and Wang, he had brought up the need for vaccine procurement not just for Malaysia but for the region.

“I got positive indications from them both, for us to move forward.”

He said the US and China were among the first countries to have invested in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“We don’t want to see Malaysia and Asean left behind,” he said at a press conference after officiating the 53rd anniversary of the setting up of Asean, at Wisma Putra this evening.

He added that Wisma Putra was working closely with the science, technology and innovation ministry which had already started discussions on the issue.

Meanwhile, on travel bubbles with other countries he said it would be targeted according to different sectors.

“For instance, our discussion with Singapore revolves around our workers.”

He added that the two governments were still discussing allowing travel for some 250,000 workers who commute to and from Singapore daily, and for a full reopening of the border in Johor.

He said this would not only depend on the Covid-19 infection numbers in the two countries but also globally.

He said the travel corridor with Australia, meanwhile, focused on Malaysian students.

“There are four campuses in Malaysia for which we may discuss a few SOPs and criteria for them to travel in these green lanes that are being discussed.”

For travel with Thailand, Hishammuddin said it revolved around the import and export of food for food security, and exploring new markets following the pandemic.

He said foreign ministers of these countries were discussing these travel bubbles but no decision had yet been made.