Tiong: Do not jump to conclusion over my tirade against health DG

Dato Sri Tiong King Sing

KUCHING, Nov 13: Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing today urged his critics not to jump to a conclusion about what transpired during Parliament sitting.

And at the same time, he reiterated that he has no malicious intention against anyone especially Heath director-general (DG) Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

To his critics, especially to Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Tiong said, “You should strive to check the facts of my full text of the speech in Parliament instead of relying on news reports which have been sensationalised based on a one-sided report from DAP Jelutong MP RSN Rayer’s antics in Parliament”.

Tiong also asked Abdul Karim to explain why he was so taken aback by his statements, by asking “As a member of GPS, who is considered a senior politician, he should understand the deeper issue before speaking.

“And if you truly feel all GPS members are part of the same family, then do me the courtesy of contacting me directly to understand the ins and outs of the matter before commenting,” Tiong told DayakDaily here today

Tiong, who is also Bintulu MP said, if Abdul Karim believed that what he said should not come from the mouth of a Sarawakian MP and a GPS leader, he would disagree with his (Karim) argument.

“As wakil rakyat, we must be courageous in voicing out for our grassroots. Aren’t we responsible to be the channel for their grievances and thoughts? Even though doing so may attract brickbats and censure from all corners, we should stand up and speak for the people instead of letting them be ignored for our own sake,” he said.

He also asked Abdul Karim what Dr Noor Hisham has done for Sarawak in terms of fighting the pandemic.

“Think of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that Sarawak had been severely lacking in the past, forcing frontliners to cut out plastic bags to become makeshift PPE and others need to buy their own PPE.

“These alone causes doubt in the effectiveness of the country’s fight against Covid-19, and questions still remain about whether the system is comprehensive enough to carry us through. Does Abdul Karim thinks these questions and doubts deserve to be addressed?” he asked.

At the same time, Tiong also thanked Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri James Masing for his reminder about improper use of words and for supporting my view that the Health DG must also personally understand the situation at the grassroots level and discuss anti-epidemic strategies collaboratively with community leaders.

“I must reiterate yet again that I had in no way meant to offend our frontline personnel. In fact, I specifically noted their selfless dedication in fighting the pandemic. What I had pointed out is the personal accountability and responsibility of the Health DG during this difficult period. These issues must be taken much more seriously, for the health and future of all Malaysians. There is zero reason to drag religion and ethnicity into this matter. This is beyond inexplicable,” he said.

Tiong who is also the Special Envoy to the People’s Republic of China, added that his concerns for the people were genuine as Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the livelihoods of an unaccountable number of people throughout the country.

“What has become extremely worrying is that the outbreaks in various states including Selangor, Kedah, Penang, and Negeri Sembilan are on the verge of spiraling out of control.

“If the pandemic is not pushed back, the economic decline will accelerate, and plunge even more SMEs into bankruptcy. What should our stressed households do for the people who lose their jobs then?

To Dr Noor Hisham, Tiong said he just wished that he (Noor Hisham) should go to the ground often in order to understand how best to address the pandemic which has worsened.

“Tan Sri, you had highlighted in your defence the fact that you had indeed gone down to the ground in Sabah in August. However, during that time, Covid-19 cases were still relatively low and the Prime Minister had also been there then.

“In fact, Covid-19 cases in Sabah were so low that it begs the question of why you were there then and not in the past few weeks when cases have increased sharply.

“Surely there had been some extraordinary measures other than the usual precautions that could have been put in place to prevent this surge of cases recently,” he said.

Tiong said, the central question that the people have pressured politicians such as himself to raise was because, the Health DG specifically was put in charge so that these surges of cases do not occur.

“I care nothing about the inevitable and expected backlash a public figure like myself would receive if it means keeping you accountable to bring down these cases. Because the numbers are beyond serious now, the people’s sufferings insurmountable, and the economy going down the drain,” he said.

Tiong reiterated that there was nothing wrong by asking Dr Noor Hisham to go down to the ground to see for himself the real problems and shortcomings faced by the frontliners.

“If you still do not understand, I would like to repeat it here again that I am not maligning you nor your reputation. Asking whether one is ‘takut mati’ at this juncture should not be construed as pulling religion into the matter and neither should you. It is an entirely normal layperson term. To those who selectively read my statements, I can also not disparaging frontliners,” he said.

Tiong added that during his speech in Parliament, he clearly recorded his appreciation for their hard work and dedication in fighting the pandemic.

“In highlighting the weaknesses and shortcomings that the DG must look into, I am merely doing my duty in passing on the sentiments of the frontliners and rakyat, who want and deserve some real answers. Do not be sensitive about this trivial issue at this crucial time. You are the Health DG for the nation. It is your responsibility to be held accountable and give some deeper answers than quoting numbers in daily press briefings,” said Tiong.

Meanwhile, Tiong said, he would not like to prolong the issue but instead hoping that everyone regardless of their political affiliations to stand united to fight Covid-19 pandemic and to rebuild the battered economy.