Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (4 March) warned its staff against making public statements, particularly on social media platforms, without approval from the ministry.
This warning came after a staff member had allegedly criticised the country’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in a social media post.
“In accordance with the principles of service and regulations related to discipline, every civil servant is prohibited from making statements directly or indirectly, touching on the implementation of any public policies, programmes and government decisions without prior permission from the ministry,” it said.
“Improper statements made without proper fact-checking will not only affect the image of the officer as a civil servant but can also cause confusion and unrest in society as well as affect the credibility of the public service and the government,” it added.
The ministry said that rules related to ethics and conduct in the public service, especially in relation to the use of social media and the prohibition of making public statements without permission, are not intended to deny officers’ rights from speaking out.
“They are more to ensure that officers use proper feedback and complaint channels to maintain the image and credibility of officers, the civil service and the government,” the statement said.
The ministry reminded all its staffs from time to time to maintain decency while using social media, and always be mindful of their limit, so they will get caught in misconduct that can be subject to disciplinary law.
MOH also said that it takes seriously the matter in relation to misconduct in the use of social media and the tendency of officials to make public statements improperly.
Disciplinary actions will be imposed against those who were found guilty in violating the set rules, the ministry warned.
Malaysia started its vaccine rollout in the first phase of its National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme on 24 Feb, with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin being the first in the nation to receive the first jab of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
As of 3 Mar, more than 80,000 medical and non-medical frontline workers across the country has received the first shot of the vaccine.