Tiong chides Chong for blaming federal and state govts but defending Health DG on Covid-19 situation

Dato Sri Tiong King Sing

KUCHING, July 19: Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen has been urged to be objective in making statements on the spiraling Covid-19 pandemic before blindly defending Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and concentrating all the blame on the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) State government.

In stating this, Bintulu Member of Parliament Dato Sri Tiong King Sing said many Cabinet members are not trained in the science of viral outbreaks and public health.

“Therefore, the measures implemented by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Security Council (NSC) to contain the pandemic relied heavily on the views, guidance and approval of the country’s Health DG (Dr Noor Hisham), including the Covid-19 prevention standard operating procedures (SOPs) and other related policies.

“For the time being, Bintulu is implementing lockdowns and formulating prevention measures tailored to the district. At the same time, the authority comes from the Health Department. Other agencies including the local councils, police and military play their roles of enforcing the SOPs and policies. All of these decisions stemmed from the Health Department.

“In this case, let us be clear that the Health Department does have a lot of influence. This is what Chong should understand before he makes his uninformed statements,” he said in a statement today.

Tiong further explained that he was not defending the PN for the sake of doing so but he believed that Chong must be objective in discussing the matter before blindly defending Dr Noor Hisham and whitewashing his failings in containing the pandemic.

“Even former Health DGs and their deputy directors have pointed out the weaknesses in our fight against Covid-19. The dilemma faced by frontliners is widespread in terms of medical supply and equipment shortage,” he added.

Tiong also mentioned that he had repeatedly urged the MOH to bring in medical experts from China in the Covid-19 task force to tap their expertise in tackling the pandemic.

“However, when I brought this issue to the Parliament for debate, Chong refused to support this, with his colleagues dismissing my concerns as ‘too alarming’, leading to the situation we have now which shows how much we need to improve in our medical system,” he said.

At the same time, Tiong also called out the Opposition for not uttering gratitude despite receiving RM300,000 allocation each from the PN government to channel food aid to the needy in their constituencies.

He also welcomed the Opposition to check whether the Bintulu constituency has receive any special funds for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apart from that, Tiong also reminded Chong that the local governments are empowered to invoke the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) to take action against parties who violate SOPs including companies such as issuing fines under Act 342 and ordering factories to close, among others.

“Therefore, why does the DAP continue to shirk their responsibilities and heap blame on parties not aligned to them? Chong should check first what his own colleagues have been failing to do.

“Bintulu on the other hand has a spirit of continuous improvisation and has spent millions of ringgit in donations from the private sector and non-profits to upgrade the hospital’s infrastructure and strived to reduce the fatality rate in our corner of the world despite our challenges. Does Chong Chieng Jen even understand this?” he questioned. — DayakDaily