By LIan Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 31: Opposition leaders are being challenged to attend Sarawak New Year Countdown tonight to see how the event is organised with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) where all frontliners attending may have a relaxed and enjoyable evening.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah extended his invitation to Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen and Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii so that they may have the opportunity to scrutinise the whole event and clear all doubts over safety concerns and be confident of the decision made by Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
“SDMC has given us clearance. And I am also in SDMC. I am very clear about what to do and what not to do. Sarawak has single-digit cases per day and the SOPs now allow half capacity for any event.
“The Indoor Stadium has a capacity of 5,000 and for this event, we only allow 1,000, which is one-fifth of the capacity. So we understand what we are doing.
“Life has to go on. And we believe if we do it safely by following strict SOPs, life may continue amid the threat of Covid-19 pandemic, Abdul Karim told DayakDaily during Sarawak New Year Countdown full rehearsal last night.
The Sarawak New Year Countdown is being hosted to show appreciation to frontliners.
He told DAP not to politicise the event and make an issue out of it.
“Dr Yii tried to politicise it and made it look like as if we are trying to encourage Covid-19 to spread but he must bear in mind, people need to go on.”
“Sarawak Covid-19 situation is different from that of Peninsular Malaysia which is still having a high number of cases.
We in Sarawak manage our Covid-19 situation and we are managing it quite well. Even the Health General Director (Tan Sri Nor Hisham Abdullah) also acknowledged how we manage it (Covid-19).
“We have SDMC here, we decide for ourselves. Unless they (opposition) want us to have everything under Peninsular Malaysia. It seems to me that some opposition leaders always prefer to abide by directives from Kuala Lumpur only.
“Whereas for Sarawak, we are autonomous. Even when comes to things like this (holding an event), we are autonomous,” said Abdul Karim.
Abdul Karim gave the assurance that all entertainers, artistes as well as musicians performing for the event are locals, except for Malaysia’s top artiste Dayang Nurfaizah who though is a Sarawakian has to fly back from Kuala Lumpur.
“She has been tested negative and she will only stay in Sarawak for 72 hours before she will fly back to Kuala Lumpur. There is no need to make a fuss out of it,” said Abdul Karim.
He was responding to the criticism of Chong and Dr Yii who questioned why Dayang has been giving “double standard” treatment of allowing entrance into Sarawak for 72 hours without being quarantined.
Meanwhile, Dr Yii also believed that it was not a good idea to organise a 1,000 people indoor New Year Countdown in the midst of a pandemic, quoting Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri who just announced that huge gatherings ushering into the new year are still not allowed.
Sarawak New Year Countdown themed “Sarawak Di Ambang 2021” will be held tonight at Indoor Stadium where tickets are needed for admission.
It has been specially organised to show appreciation to frontliners who will largely be the attendees for the event. — DayakDaily