Bintulu MP: I did not ‘pick on’ health DG with malicious intent

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

KUCHING, Nov 11: Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing asserted today that he has no malicious intent to target Ministry of Health (MoH) director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah but instead asking how MoH could tackle the spike of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“I would like to reiterate once again that, during the debate of the Supply Bill 2021 in Parliament today, I did not intend to maliciously target Health Department director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“Rather, my words reflect the frustrations of the frontliners and the people for the past several months. DAP MPs should not take advantage of my words for cheap publicity in the guise of “defending civil servants”,” Tiong asserted in a statement issued here today.

The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president reiterated that his statement was not malicious and he understands the difficulties faced by the civil servants especially those in the frontline.

“They are all working hard for the country and its people but shortcomings must be identified and improved.

“(But), as an elected representative, there is no reason why I cannot truthfully convey the grassroots’ dissatisfactions and bring constructive criticism to the table. It is clear to all that the pandemic is getting out of control. It is the people who are in dire straits. Our first consideration must be what is actually happening to the people, instead of just doing something for its own sake.

“I will assert again that there have been human errors which led to negligence in the prevention and control of the pandemic. For high-ranking civil servants, it is even more crucial to ensure that all decisions and prevention best practices hinge on the best interests for the well-being of the people and the country’s macro-economy,” he said.

Citing a recent spike of the Covid-19 cases in Sabah, Tiong said, as early as October, when a new cluster was identified, the affected area should have been decisively cordoned off, with mass screenings carried out immediately, rather than allowing potential carriers to wander around.

“When Sabah was facing the outbreaks, it was even plagued by a serious shortage of medical supplies, including personnel protection equipment (PPE) like protective suits, eye masks, facemasks, sanitisers and others. Why didn’t the Health DG personally go down to the ground to inspect the situation for himself and ‘prescribe’ the right measures for the situation?,” asked Tiong.

According to him, many people were wondering as to why Dr Noor Hisham did not visit the pandemic areas to give a first-hand report on the actual situation to the National Security Council and Prime Minister as soon as possible.

“Instead of holding those daily press conferences, he should focus entirely on the pandemic prevention work and hand over giving daily updates to the Senior Minister for Defence. While public opinion was strongly condemning the Sabah election for the outbreak, new clusters had also sprung from Kedah, Penang, and Selangor. How can this be explained?,” Tiong questioned.

He pointed out that the Health director-general should be aware that it takes first-hand knowledge of the pandemic to understand fully the situation on the ground.

“Several clusters have been identified but these were not decisively contained, particularly the situation in Selangor. New cases have even crossed into Negeri Sembilan. This does not reflect decisive action but a consequence of losing control.

Dr Noor Hisham targetted by Bintulu MP in Parliament today

“With the pandemic getting out of control if this does not rest on the shoulders of the DG, why should he be the one to hold a press conference every day?,” Tiong queried.

He stressed that at the end of the day, the people just want to see more effective responses to the pandemic with a clear understanding of the frontlines.

“And how many labs have been established to conduct in-depth research into the coronavirus? With this trend continuing, how will the country and economy recover?,” he further queried.

Tiong who is also the Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China said when the first cases were detected in Qingdao, China in mid-October, the authorities there were able to complete more than one million nucleic acid tests within days, thereby seizing upon a critical window of opportunity to decisively manage the pandemic.

“Malaysia, even without the human resources of the scale of China, should have been able to take similar decisive measures immediately. The area of lockdown would likely need not been as large and the manpower need will be relatively small. China’s area and the population is significantly larger than Malaysia’s.

“If China could do it, there is no reason why Malaysia cannot. In response to the pandemic, the Government had previously allocated billions of ringgit to fight the pandemic. Couldn’t a part of these funds be used for large scale testing?,” Tiong asked.

In Parliament today, it was reported that a heated argument erupted between Tiong and RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) who demanded an apology from Tiong for criticising a civil servant.

“Don’t criticise the DG. He is a frontliner,” Rayer said, raising his voice over his microphone which had been muted by Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. She then instructed Rayer to be silent, and after several warnings, he (Rayer) was asked to leave the hall. – DayakDaily