Minister’s ‘smartass’ remark on SDMC frontliner uncalled for, says DAP

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, Dec 30: Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah’s “smartass” remark against the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) frontliner for insisting a swab test be done on an artiste entering Sarawak is most uncalled for, said DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Chong pointed out that there was no necessity to name-calling or using such harsh words against the frontliners who were just doing their job according to the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the SDMC.

Furthermore, he questioned why must there be a special exemption from quarantine for the invited guests to a State event.

“It is already a double-standard SOP to have one set for the government officials, ministers and elected representatives on the one hand and another set of SOP for the common Sarawakians on the other hand. Now, such a double standard is extended even to the invited guests of the GPS minister,” he lashed out in a statement today.

Chong was responding to a news report by MalayMail yesterday (Dec 29) of an artiste being given a special exemption and pass to enter Sarawak as the main guest for the New Year countdown event to be held at Indoor Stadium tomorrow without the need for quarantine.

Despite having clearance, the Sarawak-born artiste Dayang Nurfaizah, who had already done a Covid-19 test in Peninsular Malaysia prior to departure, was made to do a second swab test and quarantined when she entered Sarawak.

Abdul Karim, who was irked by the inconvenience caused on the artiste, complained that “some ‘smartass’ in SDMC must have overdone (their duty)” as SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas had given the clearance.

Abdul Karim explained that these special cases who must produce test results were allowed to enter for 72 hours without being quarantined.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP, thus questioned that if a swab test is done prior to entry to Sarawak was sufficient for the exemption, why can’t common Sarawakians also be made available for such procedure?

“Why only the invited guests of the GPS minister have such privilege?.

“Abdul Karim must always bear in mind, ‘be you never so high, the “virus” is above you’. The Covid-19 virus is color-blind, position-blind and class-blind. It does not discriminate between the high position ones and the low position ones, the ministers and the commoners or the rich and the poor,” he reminded.

More importantly, Chong who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman, pointed out that at this height of the Covid-19 pandemic with daily four-digit new cases for the past few weeks, it was most unwise to hold a countdown event involving 1,000 people.

“When the Ministry of Health and the SDMC have been asking people not to gather together unnecessarily, even to the extent of limiting the number of gathering to 20 for a landed property during Christmas celebration, it is mind-boggling that the GPS government is now organising a massive 1,000-people gathering for countdown celebration.

“On the one hand, the government is asking everyone to ‘stay home, stay safe, but on the other hand, the GPS is organising this 1,000-people concert. Another double-standard practice of the GPS government,” he said.

Even though Abdul Karim had justified that the event was organised to reward the fronliners, Chong believed that there were better ways to reward them.

“To do something that has high risk and will potentially add on to their workload and burden is surely not the right way to reward them,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abdul Karim was aware that huge gatherings for New Year’s Eve celebration were not allowed this year, but he explained that tomorrow’s event was organised in a controlled environment with 1,000 invited guests and strictly complied with SOP.

The Countdown 2021 event promised to be a grand show filled with entertainment and performances by local artistes and musicians.
The event will be broadcast live on TV Sarawak and UKAS Facebook page starting at 8pm, so that all Sarawakians will be able to watch the show.

At midnight there will be a fireworks display outside the stadium. -DayakDaily