Pressure weighs on Malaysia’s royal family over vaccine allegations

Malaysia’s king and queen. Photo: Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah/Instagram
Malaysia’s king and queen. Photo: Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah/Instagram

The royal family is getting a lot of heat from Malaysians after allegations surfaced that they have taken unapproved vaccines courtesy of friends in the United Arab Emirates. 

The family has yet to publicly address allegations claiming that they have obtained the Sinopharm vaccine that were published in the Asia Sentinel on Friday, citing unnamed sources. Even Queen Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, 60, who is the most active on social media within the family, had refrained from commenting on the matter despite pressure from the public. She did post one cryptic message on Instagram today after her account went dark on Monday.

“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide,” she posted, quoting American motivational speaker Brene Brown. 

The allegations were mentioned in the report titled Malaysia Fades in Covid Fight, which said that Malaysia’s blue bloods were inoculated in January using the Sinopharm vaccine, which has not been approved by the Ministry of Health in Malaysia. The report also alleged that Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah received an additional 2,000 doses of the vaccine “to take home” for his family and friends. Asia Sentinel added that the Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah had tried to stop them from receiving the unapproved vaccines, but failed. Noor Hisham has not publicly commented on the article. 

Nobody else from the royal family has commented on the matter on their respective social media platforms. The king does not have personal social media accounts. 

Hundreds of the queen’s 1.2 million followers have written in the comments asking for a “clear statement” about the royal family’s vaccination status. 

The queen is also being criticized over her now-deleted comments that suggested she had been vaccinated. One of them was the cheeky comment “Dengki ke (Are you jealous)?” that was written in reply to a commenter asking whether her chefs were also vaccinated.

The hashtag #DengkiKe has been trending on Twitter with more than 50,000 tweets, some featuring a now-deleted post by Azizah saying: “by the way netizens… i have had two shots of the vaccine… alhamdulillah.”

Twitter user @PointMHD was among those who reacted to the queen, saying: “Ordinary Malaysians have been waiting for vaccines patiently since months ago, and our Queen can ask us #DengkiKe when we ask them about their vaccination.”

User @IzzRaifHarz chimed in: “So instead of directly responding to the allegations, they just cynically posted religious quotes and now after constant confrontation from the public they deactivated their social media? Very [suspicious].”

The hashtags #Sinopharm and the phrase “Agong,” which refers to Malaysia’s king, also trended on Twitter over the weekend as many Malaysians were left in the dark about whether the allegations were true.

Health Minister Adham Baba yesterday denied that the royals received Sinopharm vaccines and labeled the report as “negative.” He was also named in the report. 

Other stories to check out:

Malaysia finds new COVID-19 variant from South Africa in 17 Selangor cases

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