Malaysia wants Asean Covid-19 fund expedited, says foreign minister

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein speaks during the 8th US-Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 15, 2020. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein speaks during the 8th US-Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 15, 2020. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — Malaysia is in accord with Brunei in pushing for the Asean Covid-19 Fund to be formulated and expedited as soon as possible, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

The fund which was endorsed during the 25th Asean Coordinating Council Meeting in 2020 is aimed at assisting member states in vaccine procurement and rollout plans, highlighting a collective regional approach to vaccination, he said.

Hishammuddin said this in his intervention during the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AMM Retreat) chaired by Brunei Foreign Minister II Datuk Seri Setia Erywan Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Mohd Yusof through video conference, with the details later shared via a statement today.

He also expressed Malaysia’s appreciation and support on the effective mediation role by China in the tripartite process involving Bangladesh and Myanmar and its offer to provide Covid-19 vaccinations to the Rohingya people in the first phase of repatriation of displaced persons from Rakhine State in Bangladesh.

“This positive much-awaited development would certainly alleviate the situation in Rakhine State, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and provide the refugees with the opportunity to return,” he said.

Meanwhile, in reaffirming Malaysia’s full support for the Asean 2021’s key focus areas of Mental Health, Youth in Peace and Security and Multilateralism, he underscored that while there had been ample discussion on the economic fallout from this global pandemic, the toll it took on the collective mental health was harder to quantify.

“Asean must recognise and highlight that mental health troubles are a natural reaction to the pandemic and our Governments must be ready to address this” he said.

With Malaysia’s position as the Country Coordinator for Asean-Australia relations, Hishammuddin also proposed that Asean works together with Australia on mental health programmes to help those affected by the pandemic.

He also thanked the Asean Member States for the consensus to endorse Malaysia as Asean’s Candidate for the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2022-2024 and offered Malaysia’s heartiest congratulations to Vietnam for a successful Asean chairmanship in 2020.

Hishammuddin also extended Malaysia’s heartfelt condolences to Indonesia and the families of the victims of the Sriwijaya plane crash on Jan 9 where 62 people perished and the earthquake in Sulawesi on Jan 15 where at least 90 people have been killed. — Bernama