At this point, I think it’s time to admit the truth: things aren’t going so well for Malaysia. Our economy is crumbling, COVID-19 cases are surging and to top it all off, our government is a complete mess.
And now we have anti-vaxxers trying to make the situation even worse! Can’t we catch a break?
Let’s start from the beginning: who are anti-vaxxers and what do they want?
According to Merriam-Webster, an anti-vaxxer is “a person who opposes vaccination or laws that mandate vaccination”.
Medical News Today goes into more detail, defining anti-vaxxers as “people who disagree with the use of vaccines for a variety of reasons” and “deny the existence or validity of the science supporting their use”.
As I’m neither a dictionary nor a medical professional, my definition of anti-vaxxer is: “people like that one annoying auntie who nobody likes because she keeps spamming nonsense on the family WhatsApp group”.
You know exactly the type I’m talking about. In fact, some of you might even be unlucky enough to live with people like that. Over the past year, the anti-vaxxer movement in Malaysia has grown from an annoyance to an actual threat — not just to themselves, but to everyone around them.
The Malaysian Anti-Vaxxers
Earlier this year, a survey performed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) found that out of 15,639 Malaysians: 85% were willing to be vaccinated, 10% were uncertain and 5% disagreed with vaccination altogether. Some of the reasons provided by anti-vaxxers include:
- Concerns about side effects
- Lack of information
- Religious factors
- Cultural factors
While it’d be easy to dismiss all their arguments, life isn’t always that simple. Past events such as the “empty syringe” incident can and have made people more hesitant about the vaccine. While they aren’t too bad individually, every time something like this happens, anti-vaxxer numbers rise.
In a recent article by The Star, former President of the Private Medical Practitioners Associations and the Malaysia Medical Association Dr Milton Lum urged the government to be more transparent about the vaccination process.
“In the public information provided by the authorities, it is vital to maintain a fine balance in disclosing what is known and acknowledging the uncertainties… Disclosure about how key decisions are made are critical for gaining and maintaining public trust,” he wrote.
However, he also added that “social media users have to be responsible and avoid spreading falsehoods”.
Fake News and Anti-Vaxxers: A Marriage Made in Hell
To learn more about Malaysian anti-vaxxers, The Full Frontal decided to join some of the local anti-vax groups. Worryingly, most of these groups were masquerading as legitimate COVID-19 vaccine information groups, using names like “msia vaxx victims” or “AEFICOVIDVAX” to slip under the radar.
But while they seemed like legitimate groups on the surface, a closer look reveals that their members are awfully eager to share stories about how terrible and dangerous the vaccine is.
One local anti-vaxxer group called the “Malaysia Covid Vaxx post-jab event” recently posted an interview with “world-renown German-Thai-American microbiologist” Dr Sucharit Bhakdi in order to prove that COVID vaccines are going to cause “a decimation of the human population”.
Wow, sounds scary, right? Sounds legit, right? After all, the guy has “Dr” in front of his name, so he’s definitely a trustworthy source, right?
Unfortunately, the answer to these questions are no, no and hell no.
Here’s How You Can Debunk Anti-Vaxxer’s “Proof” in Literally Five Minutes
Step one: Do a google search on “Dr Sucharit Bhakdi”.
Step two: Look at the very first page of Google.
Notice all the links saying “FALSE”, “Dangerous Disinformation” and so on? On the right side of the screen there’s even a link to his Wikipedia page. The excerpt?
“Sucharit Bhakdi is a retired Thai-German microbiologist, known in retirement for spreading conspiracy theories and antisemitic polemic.”
Still not proof enough for you? Well, let’s go in deeper, shall we? The man is supposed to be a “world-renown” German doctor, so let’s see what the Germans think of him.
Well, you might be interested to know that our good friend Dr Sucharit Bhakdi actually received an award in 2020. That’s right, he really is an award winning doctor! Do you want to know what medal he received?
It’s the Das Goldene Brett vorm Kopf. In English, it’s translated to: “The Golden Board in Front of the Head” (aka “The Golden Blockhead”) award! It’s a special reward given to “the most astonishing pseudo-scientific nuisance” of the year.
So the next time an anti-vaxxer tells you to “do some research” and “think for yourself”, ask them why they’re listening to a literal Blockhead rather than an actual scientist.
Why Are Anti-Vaxxers So Dangerous?
In normal times, the whole vaccination debate wouldn’t really be a big deal. But the problem is that right now, we’re in the middle of a literal pandemic.
The big problem with anti-vaxxers is that they never want to take responsibility for their actions.
Let me put it this way; I literally could not care less if you don’t want to take the vaccine. Your body, your choice, and all that jazz. I’ve got better things to do than be a kepochi and poke my nose into other people’s business.
But the thing is, I have never heard an anti-vaxxer say “I don’t trust the vaccine, so I’m just going to keep staying in quarantine”.
I have, however, seen plenty of anti-vaxxers go “I don’t trust the vaccine, so I’m just going to go out anyway no matter how risky it is!”
No, I’m not exaggerating. They really are trying to do that.
Anti-Vaxxers: Doing Their Best To Make Things Worse For Everyone
On 21 August 2021 a clinic in Penang went viral after releasing an Facebook post asking anti-vaxxers to stop trying to bribe their doctors for a fake vaccine certification.
Doktor kami tak terima duit rasuah haram!
Please don’t kill us anti-vaxxers and stop bribing doctors!via Facebook
In all honestly, we’re lucky that this clinic had strong ethics. Otherwise, who knows how many anti-vaxxers would be running around, gleefully hiding behind their fake cards even as more and more people get sick?
More recently, another Malaysian anti-vaxxer couple went viral on social media for doing a so-called “social experiment”.
In other words, this lady and her husband went out to visit shops and restaurants despite the fact that they hadn’t received any vaccination.
“We saw that there were many people dining in there. So we simply went in with confident faces like we’ve had three vaccination doses. Sat down, ate and left. Not a single person asked or checked.” she said, posting pictures of her family together at a mamak restaurant.
She also complained about how her “poor husband” had gotten kicked out of a barbershop after the barber found out that he was unvaccinated. “Finally, he went to another barber shop that didn’t ask for anything. Just go in, cut hair, settle… from now on we’ll support barbers like this only.”
Honestly, I feel more sympathy for the first barbers. Because of this one anti-vaxxer, they would have had to close and sanitise their whole shop instead of working!
Why Is This A Problem?
“Why is this such a big problem?” you might ask. “After all, if they go out with a fake vaccine certification and get sick, it’s their own problem, right?”
These are the people who keep posting about how much they don’t trust doctors or medicine, so how do you think they’re going to react the moment that something starts affecting them personally?
I can tell you: They’re going to rush straight to the hospital, where they’ll take up one of the limited beds, use up valuable medical resources and add more work to our already overworked frontliners.
To make matters worse, by running around in public, they’re turning themselves into COVID-carriers. We’ve already seen how many people can get infected in a mass spreader event — can you imagine how much worse it’ll get if the medical professionals can’t identify the spreader quickly because they’re carrying a fake vaccine card?
We’ve already been stuck in this stupid lockdown for over a year. At this point, I’ve been in lockdown longer than I’ve ever had a relationship!
If these anti-vaxxers have their way, how much longer are we going to be stuck at home?
Combating Corruption and Cracking Down On Anti-Vaxxers
One of the reasons why these anti-vaxxers are acting so brazenly is because of our country’s culture of corruption.
The whole “if I got money, I can get away with it” culture has been embedded into our society for so long that we’ve got people who think that following the law is optional.
After all, why pay a saman when I can just pass the policeman some duit kopi? Why wait in line to renew your driver’s license when you can just pay someone to quietly pass you a new one? Why get a life-saving vaccine when you can bribe a doctor to give you a fake certification instead?
Imagine if you had to go into surgery and then one of your doctors said “Oh, I never actually got my medical license. But don’t worry, I just paid someone RM1,000 and he got me a fake one!”
Just because it’s convenient doesn’t mean that it’s right. Corruption can cause just as much damage as COVID-19 in the long term.
If you want to know more about doing your part to reduce corruption in Malaysia, check out: