KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing today criticised Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for not personally visiting Sabah, the current Covid-19 epicentre in Malaysia.
The Gabungan Parti Sarawak lawmaker also questioned why the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not implement swift lockdowns and test all residents living in communities reporting Covid-19 outbreaks, citing the Lahad Datu prison cluster that led to a surge of coronavirus infections throughout Sabah since October.
“The DG just does news every day. If it’s just the news, even the office boy can read. Why didn’t he go down to the ground?” Tiong said during his debate on Budget 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat.
“Like KK (Kota Kinabalu), Sabah now, the situation there is terrible, the Covid-19 pandemic there is really serious. Why didn’t he visit each hospital, temporary hospital? Go there and see, have discussions, give moral support to the frontliners.
“Doctors and nurses are all sent to work there. Don’t just send the doctors and nurses. Oh, those people are not afraid to die, but the DG is scared of death? (Itu orang tak takut mati, tapi DG takut mati?)”
Tiong also slammed MOH for not sending its director-general deputies to Sabah, saying: “No need to seek publicity every day”.
The GPS lawmaker’s remarks sparked uproar among Opposition MPs, particularly Jelutong MP RSN Rayer (DAP), who demanded that Tiong “respect” Dr Hisham. Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said then ordered Rayer to be escorted out of chambers after he refused to take his seat.
Tiong declined to retract his remarks, saying: “It’s the frontliners who are saying, ‘Why didn’t the DG come over?’ These are the voices of frontliners. What’s the problem? I didn’t curse at him to die; I said, ‘why is he scared of death?’”
Tiong also expressed his dissatisfaction about MOH initially wanting to quarantine the Sibu family of Irene Chung, who was raped and murdered in Taiwan, when they arrived in Kuala Lumpur with the 24-year-old woman’s ashes after flying to Taiwan on October 30 for her funeral arrangements.
The Sarawakian MP pointed out that Chung’s family had tested negative for Covid-19 in Taiwan prior to departure, and that they only needed to get swabbed in Kuala Lumpur upon arrival, and again in Sarawak later.
“We had applied for them to immediately transit to Sarawak. Sarawak already gave approval and listed SOPs (standard operating procedures). He [Dr Noor Hisham] refused to allow the transit; he ordered immediate quarantine here.
“I’ll be honest. I informed his officers that if he doesn’t give approval, I will send the ashes to his office and tell him to pray for 14 days.”
Chung’s family did not appear to have undergone 14 days’ quarantine upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur, as The Star reported that they arrived in Sibu on November 4.
“Don’t abuse your powers. We must have a committee of experts from both the public and private sector to give advice. Don’t just let one person make all the decisions. He is really power-crazy (gila kuasa),” Tiong said.
Tiong further criticised the federal government for drafting “ambiguous” Covid-19 SOPs that lead to the police issuing RM1,000 fines for perceived infractions, such as over passengers sitting in front even if the vehicle only carries two people, the driver and one passenger.
Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has previously confirmed that a passenger can sit in front with the driver under the two-person per car rule.
“These confusing things make the people angry. At a time when the rakyat are facing difficulties, why don’t you explain things?” said Tiong.
Tiong also highlighted the case of a man who was fined RM1,000 for not checking in on the government’s MySejahtera contact tracing app before filling up fuel, despite not entering the shop at the petrol station.
“Only yesterday, they clarified. But people have already been fined RM1,000,” said Tiong.
Ismail Sabri announced yesterday that people do not need to check in manually or with the MySejahtera app to fill up at fuel pumps with card transactions, or cash payments through a window at the counter.
“RM1,000 is not fair to the rakyat. I hope we can fix this. MOH must explain this; these are SOPs issued by MOH,” Tiong said.