Covid-19: SDMC urged to define ‘essential services’ to avoid ambiguity

Michael Kong

KUCHING, Dec 22: Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) must define what it means by “essential services”.

“It is time that the SDMC put a proper definition of ‘essential services’. Many times, we hear people being able to travel without any restrictions on the pretext of being involved in ‘essential services’,” said Michael Kong, the special assistant to Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

He claimed that Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian has been one of the beneficiaries of this opaque definition.

“On Dec 17, 2020, Dr Sim was photographed attending a meeting at Putrajaya with other representatives from the PN (Perikatan Nasional) coalition. Since then, Dr Sim has returned to Kuching without any quarantine order and was seen visiting many public places within Kuching.

In his defence, Dr Sim has said that he was granted an exemption from any quarantine because he falls within the ‘essential services’ category.

“Bear in mind that this political meeting was merely to discuss the setting up of a presidential council. If it had been DAP state committee members flying to Kuala Lumpur for a PH (Pakatan Harapan) meeting, likewise will SDMC then say that it was an essential service (or meeting for that matter) too?

“We know that the answer will be no. It is non-essential because there is no urgency in having the meeting and therefore the attendees should not be accorded any exemption from quarantine,” said Kong in a press statement today.

He asserted that Dr Sim as a medical doctor should understand the severity of Covid-19.

As at Dec 20, 2020, Kong said there are over 76 million confirmed cases in the world with about 1.7 million deaths. Locally, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor collectively averaged over 800 cases per day over the past three days.

Kong also pointed out the Sabah state election has showed the grave consequences of relaxing Covid-19 measures and even the aftermath was enough to convince Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to postpone his plans to hold Sarawak’s state election from this year to next year.

“As such, while exemption from the SDMC may be necessary for some services, political meetings should not fall within this ambit.

“As leaders, politicians, Dr Sim should set an example by undergoing self home quarantine to spread the message and curb any possibility of spreading the disease further,” opined Kong. — DayakDaily