Court rejects application to challenge Covid-19 vaccination programme

Court rejects application to challenge Covid-19 vaccination programme

Judge also denies request by UM staff, teachers for costs as it involves public interest.

THE Shah Alam High Court has rejected a judicial review application by the academic and administrative staff of Universiti Malaya (UM), as well as five teachers, to challenge the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Judge Dr Shahnaz Sulaiman in her judgement said that the court examined all the factors presented in the application. “Covid-19 is a global pandemic that caused the authorities to take measures to ensure public health is guaranteed.

“The court does not agree that the (government’s) decision contradicts Article 9 of the Federal Constitution and finds it irrational or illegal for the court to cancel it,” she was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia.

She also rejected a request for costs by the applicants as it involves public interest.

In May last year, Dr Shahnaz allowed their request for judicial review even though the attorney-general (AG) had opposed the action. Earlier, the AG’s office had reportedly failed in its appeal to prevent the group of UM academic and administrative staff and five teachers from challenging the government’s vaccination programme.

A three-judge panel led by Judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera had said that the High Court was right when it gave permission for the merits of the case to be heard. The two groups had filed an application in the High Court in October 2021 for an order to annul the government’s order based on the official circular that was sent to them.

A total of 19 UM applicants named the UM registrar, the Public Service Department (JPA) and its director-general Khairul Adib Abd Rahman, the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Putrajaya as respondents.

In addition, the five teachers filed the same application naming the education minister, the health minister, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the MOH, in addition to Khairul and the federal government as respondents.

They argued that civil servants must be given the freedom to choose to participate in the programme or not and that the government’s action to force vaccination is against the fundamental rights in the Federal Constitution.

In a separate development, the MOH was reported to have recommended a third booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, especially for vulnerable and high-risk groups, following the recent increase in cases.

Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said earlier today there is a sufficient stock of vaccines available which are effective in protecting the public from mutated infections and new Covid-19 variants.

“The booster dose is necessary to protect vulnerable groups including the senior citizens and those with comorbidities who are susceptible to risks and harmful,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

“I told the cabinet yesterday about the current situation and that we should pay attention (to this),” he told reporters after attending the monthly MOH assembly in Putrajaya today. It was reported yesterday that a total of 12,757 Covid-19 cases were recorded during the 49th Epidemiological Week from December 3 to 9, compared to 6,796 cases the previous week.

– The Vibes, December 14, 2023

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