Herd immunity to COVID-19 must be sped up

Letter to Editor

Note: This letter is addressed to YB Ong Kian Ming and is published with permission from the author.

Yang Berhormat,

I REFER to your suggestion for hotels in Selangor to be converted into Low Risks Quarantine Centres (LRQCs) to replicate what Penang did, as reported in an article published by Malay Mail previously.

Penang also successfully facilitated the vaccination of more than 160 trishaw peddlers against the COVID-19 infection.

Unbeknownst to non-Penangites, the lang chia lang (trishawmen community) who are recognised as frontliners in the State’s tourism industry, many of them do not have a home and usually spent the night on their pedicabs.

Maybe some of the peddlers will eventually get some shelter in the Rumah Gelandangan, now under construction on Jalan C. Y. Choy.

The Department of Statistics has been carrying out census for umpteen years, dividing the survey areas into blocks of buildings as per the coloured cadastral sheets sold at RM30 each by the National Surveying and Mapping Department (JUPEM).

With the input of the valuation lists of City/Town/Municipal/Districts (PBTs), the addresses of dwellings and premises of other usage can be obtained.

The archaic tomes that once contained the valuation lists have been replaced by computerised spreadsheets of Excel, Open Source or proprietary programs and each page is divided and identified by:

  1. District code
  2. Town Section/Mukim code
  3. Road/Street code
  4. Premise number
  5. Postal code

Thus, valuation list data can help plan venues to be selected as vaccination (vax) centres with characteristics like having high ceilings, on bus routes, and ample car parking.

Prior to the advent of computers and Global Positioning System (GPS), Bukit Aman used to send teams to Penang for raids and confiscations of real estate bought with ill-gotten gains.

There were a few times when the teams consulted the Valuation Department of the erstwhile Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang to pinpoint the venues they plan to raid/visit by referring to its cadastral sheets updated with the latest buildings from commercial complexes to kampung houses.

It is perplexing why these PBTs and the Statistics Department were not roped in to help.

The MySejahtera app depends solely on applicants-for-vaccination registering with a smartphone and the addition of a ‘vaccination dependent’ option has reportedly spawned abuse of leapfrogging and profiteering akin to black market cinema tickets of a bygone era.

Unfortunately, the app is unlikely to encourage undocumented migrants and homeless as well as non-tech savvy locals to register.

Planning vax campaigns by corroborating data from the PBTs and Statistics Department will evolve a fine-tooth comb to ensure better vax rates conducive to faster immunity.

Phasing the vax candidates by building blocks within a Mukim or Town Section obviate unnecessary travel and search for the elusive parking bays, causing less contact and infectivity.

In other words, move the vaccinators and not the vax candidate.

Having cognisance of the vital role that cadastral sheets can play in improving delivery of service, I have previously emailed the Penang State administration to periodically audit the upkeep of these documents at the present day Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang.

Admittedly, these audits are less visible to the rakyat than those photo sessions that politicians on both sides of the fence crave.

Hopefully, my pleas have not fallen on deaf ears. – Aug 1, 2021.


Chow Siew Cheong

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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