Malaysian netizens angry with report of royal vaccinations, govt's flailing response to Covid-19

Malaysians have now been warned to prepare for a possible fourth wave.
Malaysians have now been warned to prepare for a possible fourth wave.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The hashtags #kerajaangagal (failed government) along with #Agong (King) trended on Twitter over the weekend as Malaysians expressed online anger over the government's perceived mishandling of issues ranging from the Covid-19 crisis to alleged furtive vaccination of the country's ruler.

The anger boiled over following a  report by the Asia Sentinel news site saying that the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, was vaccinated during his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates  with the Sinopharm vaccine, which has not been approved for use in Malaysia, and brought back 2,000 doses for his family and friends.

Malaysian Health Minister Adham Baba denied the claim.

"Where did the writer get the source for his story? He is trying to create a negative perception of Malaysia," Datuk Seri Dr Adham was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight news website on Sunday (April 18).

According to the report, Sultan Abdullah, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Attorney-General Idrus Harun were vaccinated with Sinopharm during a January trip to meet Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who trained together with the king at the Sandhurst military college in Britain.

Previously, the Queen, Tunku Azizah Iskandar, was said to have posted on her Instagram account to say she had received both of her Covid-19 vaccine doses. The post has since been deleted.

One of the two doctors named in the report as having allegedly administered the vaccines has refuted the allegation. "I have nothing to say as it is just not true," Datuk Dr Hanafiah Harunarashid wrote on Twitter.

Some netizens on the Queen's Instagram have asked her to respond to the claims, while others expressed deep anger to the point of even attacking the revered King and Queen.

On Monday (April 19), instagrammer "ronda.c5" wrote on Tunku Azizah's account: "May Allah curse rulers and leaders who are cruel, abuse their power, are greedy, selfish, betray our trust, and are corrupt."

As at late Sunday, there were 10,000 tweets with the hashtag #Agong.

Twitter user Zhan H. tweeted: "Is our beloved YDPA (King) secretly going behind our backs to get him and his friends vaccinated and with the help of this #kerajaangagal, keeping word of it shut?"

Malaysians have been angry since Covid-19 hit last year with what they saw as double standards in the government's response, with the public heavily fined and even jailed for breaking health protocols while the elite, including politicians, were treated differently.

Frustration has also been simmering on social media after Covid-19 cases in Malaysia breached the 2,000 mark from last week, with netizens questioning why a state of emergency since January has failed to lower the number of infections.

Instead, they said, Malaysians have now been warned to prepare for a possible fourth wave.

Twitter saw more than 100,000 tweets with the hashtag #kerajaangagal over the weekend.

User Amar wrote: "1. They fail in managing the pandemic even after a year; 2. Rakyat (the people) are mad; 3. The Emergency Ordinance is a pure political ploy for them to survive."

Some commenters also pondered why a new deputy tourism, arts and culture minister was sworn in last week during a pandemic when the country's borders are shut.

Malaysia on Monday reported 2,078 new Covid-19 infections, the fifth straight day that cases went above the 2,000-mark, after previously trending below 2,000 for six consecutive weeks.