MP rues New Year Eve countdown with artiste from KL flying in

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Dec 30: Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii is urging the State government to consider postponing their planned New Year’s Eve celebration which is expected to gather at least 1,000 people tomorrow (Dec 31).

Noting that some artistes will be flown in from Kuala Lumpur for the event and being exempted from complying with quarantine orders, Yii aired his dissatisfaction with a double standard for entry into Sarawak being practiced by the State authority for normal people and VVIPs.

“Is a New Year party now considered as ‘essential services’ that warrants such special exemption and treatment?


“On top of that, these exemptions are granted to people coming from (Covid-19 high-risk) red zones where the number of cases in the Klang Valley is continuously climbing. Why such double standards?” he questioned in a statement today.

He was commenting on a news report by Malay Mail 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 without the need for quarantine even though coming from a Covid-19 red zone.

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.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who was irked by the inconvenience caused on the artiste complained that “some ‘smartass’ in SDMC (State Disaster Management Committee) must have overdone (their duty)” as SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has 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.

Yii expressed dismay and disappointment with Abdul Karim’s remarks as the civil servants were merely trying to do their work in accordance with standard operating procedures (SOP).

“I believe YB Abdul Karim should also extend his apologies to the civil servants for labelling them names for merely doing their job. For me, it is an insult to all the hard-working frontliners out there who on a daily basis put their lives at risk just so that we are cared for and protected,” he criticised.

Yii viewed that the main issue was not on the artiste who received an invitation to perform, nor was it with the civil servants who were just trying to do their job, but rather the initiator who thought it was a good idea to organise a 1,000 people indoor New Year countdown party in the middle of a pandemic and gave an exemption for persons travelling from a red zone.

“Even if they claim to be able to maintain certain SOP during the event, what message is the State government trying to send to the people about the importance of following all necessary precautions including avoiding crowded areas and risk the possibility of an outbreak?,” he asked.

He further questioned how Sarawak was exempted from holding huge gatherings on New Year eve to usher in 2021 when Senior Minister who heads the National Security Council Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had yesterday warned that such gatherings were not allowed nationwide.

“At the end of the day, the question has to be asked whether such a big event is necessary for this critical time? I would rather spend the money to help those who really need it including showing appreciation to our frontliners,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Abdul Karim was aware that huge gatherings for the New Year eve celebration were not allowed this year, but he explained that tomorrow’s event was organised in a controlled environment at the Indoor Stadium with 1,000 invited guests and strictly comply 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