New Malay PM urges country to unite in fight against Covid

New Malay PM urges country to unite in fight against Covid
Newly-appointed Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. (Photo by Chong Voon Chung/Xinhua/IANS)

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 23 (IANS) In his first public address since assuming office on August 21, newly-appointed Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged his country to unite in the fight against the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

In the televised speech on Sunday, Ismail Sabri sought to strike a conciliatory tone, following months of political tensions that led to the resignation of his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin, reports Xinhua news agency.

"We are all a part of a family despite our different religions and ethnicity. Every one of you is like my own family, whether you may be young or old. We complement each other, each needing the other as do different parts of a single body."

Ismail Sabri said his government will continue the effort to push forward the vaccination program to build protection against the health crisis while taking measures to revive the economy hampered by the pandemic.

Ismail Sabri also reached out to the country's opposition, inviting them to join the national recovery council and the special committee on Covid-19, to contribute to the combat against the outbreak facing the country.

"I understand the political conflicts have affected the country and distressed the public. Therefore, it is imperative that political stability is swiftly achieved through togetherness, and this includes cross-party cooperation," he said.

On August 21, Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah appointed Ismail Sabri, who was the former Deputy Prime Minister, as the new Prime Minister.

A day earlier, Ismail Sabri had received the backing of 114 out of the 220 MPs in the lower house of Parliament, a simple majority to form the government, hence Sultan Abdullah agreed to appoint him as the Prime Minister in accordance with the Constitution.

His appointment came as Malaysia is mired in a political turmoil despite a dire situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysia reported another 19,807 new cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 1,555,093.

Another 232 deaths have been reported, which increased the overall fatalities to 14,168.

Till date, some 55.5 per cent of the population have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 38.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.