KUALA LUMPUR, August 26 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today urged the Sarawak state government to resolve the four months’ delay in payment of the state’s special Covid-19 allowance for medical frontliners.
The DAP lawmaker and trained medical practitioner was responding to an anonymous complaint letter published on CodeBlue by a medical officer from Sibu General Hospital, Sarawak, who alleged that medical officers in all hospitals in Sarawak have yet to receive their RM300 monthly state Covid-19 allowance for the last four months since May.
Dr Yii pointed out that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg had, under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) state stimulus programme, pledged to give frontliners involved in Sarawak’s Covid-19 response an RM300 monthly incentive, on top of the RM600 special Covid-19 allowance from the federal government.
“This, again, is not the first time for such delay and we have received complaints before from medical frontliners, not just on the delay, but how many qualified frontliners cannot apply for this allowance.
“This has affected medical frontliners from different departments and hospitals all over Sarawak, including the emergency department (ETD), medical staff, and even anesthesiologists,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
Dr Yii stated that he had raised last April the issue of expanding the state’s special Covid-19 allowance to other health workers — beyond doctors and those directly involved in managing the outbreak — to those involved in the management of the whole Covid-19 ecosystem, such as emergency staff, pharmacists, psychiatrists, and hospital cleaners, including health workers in Sarawak.
He stated that the state government had responded and expanded it to other health care workers working beyond the four main hospitals in Sarawak.
“What is even more important is that the allocations that was promised goes directly to its intended target without delay,” the Bandar Kuching MP stressed.
Dr Yii said the RM1,200 overdue four months’ state Covid-19 allowance for medical frontliners was no small amount, especially for those under contract, as health workers have other family and financial commitments.
“Yesterday itself in Parliament I raised the issue that there are medical frontliners who have yet to get their federal Covid-19 special allowance on top of their elaun perpindahan or relocation allowance for those who were moved to specialised Covid-19 hospitals during the pandemic.
“So, with the delays from both federal and state government, is this the way we should show our appreciation towards our medical frontliners that have served us committedly during the pandemic and even putting their lives at risk to exposure of the virus and also exposure to their loved ones?” Dr Yii questioned.
Dr Yii was referring to another anonymous letter published by CodeBlue on Monday from a Sungai Buloh Hospital contract medical officer, who claimed that medical officers at that hospital have not received their relocation allowance, since they were transferred from other hospitals to Sungai Buloh five months ago to help with the coronavirus outbreak. The Sungai Buloh Hospital doctor had also alleged two months’ delay of on-call and Covid-19 allowances since June.
As a response to the unpaid allowances for Sungai Buloh Hospital medical officers, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced yesterday at a press conference that he had instructed the Ministry of Health’s finance department to immediately facilitate the issue as he stressed that it is not fair to the frontliners on the ground.
Dr Yii urged the state government of Sarawak to address the matter immediately and pay their dues to the frontliners, including the Covid-19 claims that are backlogged and some of the on-call claims.
“Our medical frontliners deserve our praise and appreciation, especially during Covid-19 times, but they cannot live or eat on praises alone. And that is why we owe it a duty to make sure their welfare is taken care of properly.”