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Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia Penang Branch chairman Datuk Jimmy Ong said the setting up of centralised Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) at state-owned assets on the island and Seberang Perai would help the industry. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia Penang Branch chairman Datuk Jimmy Ong said the setting up of centralised Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) at state-owned assets on the island and Seberang Perai would help the industry. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, May 28 ― More than 35,000 factory workers in Penang have registered their interest in a proposed mass Covid-19 vaccination for the manufacturing sector under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Immunisation Model, according to the Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia Penang Branch chairman Datuk Jimmy Ong.

He said the setting up of centralised Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) at state-owned assets on the island and Seberang Perai would help the industry.

“Based on our Batch 1 closing date on May 20, more than 35,000 employees have registered their interest to register for vaccination at the centralised PPVs,” he said at a virtual press conference by the Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council today involving industry players in Penang and InvestPenang.

He said FMM Penang will continue to get more workers to register for vaccination and work with the state government on making the mass vaccination a success.

“We only wish to have better clarity from the federal government on the timeline of the vaccine availability,” he said.

FMM Penang adviser Datuk Seri Ooi Eng Hock said the mass vaccination and mass screening efforts in the manufacturing sector is important as it affects the economy of the state and the country.

“If possible, we hope the mass vaccination programme can be expedited and make it compulsory too if possible,” he said.

Ong, however, stated that a lot of ground work will be involved once vaccinations kick off at the centralised PPVs.

“We need to prepare to move the work force for vaccination and we have to be ready to do this once the vaccines supply arrives and centralised PPVs are set up,” he said.

However, Small and Medium Enterprises Association (SAMENTA) secretary-general Yeoh Seng Hooi voiced his concern about the 1,500-employee criteria of the PPP Immunisation Model.

“SMEs will be left out as we would not be able to meet the 1,500 employee criteria,” he said.

He said many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have smaller workforces respectively but all of the SMEs combined employed about 50 per cent of the total workforce in the manufacturing sector.

“These workers need to be vaccinated to make the PPP Immunisation programme meaningful,” he said.

He added that SAMENTA hoped that the SMEs will be able to join in the mass vaccination programme under the state and larger companies.

Meanwhile, Special Investment Advisor to the Chief Minister of Penang, Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, said all of the industry leaders have suggested that they work together to co-ordinate efforts on the ground for the mass vaccination.

“They will need to co-ordinate moving people from factories to vaccination centres and to do this seamlessly,” he said.

He said the industry players are gearing up and getting ready for the roll-out especially after the federal government has announced that more vaccine supplies are coming in June and July.

Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies’ Association (FREPENCA) President David Lacey said their members are supportive of the PPP model.

“Our members can co-ordinate and facilitate the efforts on the ground but we hope that relevant ministries can expedite the roll out of this programme,” he said.

Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) Chairman Andy Lee said AMMI member companies will encourage its employees to register for the mass vaccination.

“In ensuring an expeditious roll-out, AMMI hopes to see greater collaboration and co-ordination between all stakeholders to empower healthcare professionals to manage the set-up of more PPVs especially to be ready for mass vaccination,” he said.

FMM Penang introduced the Penang S.A.F.E programme to provide Deep Throat Saliva (DTS) rt-PCR screening for factory workers that kicked off last week.

Ong said it is an affordable solution to conduct periodical mass screening of workers so that infected individuals can be identified and isolated as soon as possible.

“FMM hopes that more companies will participate in this programme in a collective effort with the government in battling the Covid-19 pandemic at the work place and in the community,” he said.

The Penang Manufacturing Industry Advisory Council consists of InvestPenang, FMM, SAMENTA, FREPENCA and the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI).

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