Bintulu MP Bombarded with Barbs over “DG Afraid to Die” Remark

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The barbs are flying thick and fast at Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing who sparked an uproar by insinuating that Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah did not visit Sabah to monitor the Covid-19 situation there because he was afraid of dying.

The criticisms are coming despite Tiong saying he did not intend to “maliciously target” Noor Hisham when debating Budget 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. He explained that he wished to highlight the people’s dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasir called Tiong’s remarks “superficial and irresponsible” and urged him to apologise for them.

“It is common knowledge that Dr Noor Hisham is the main character who has worked hard, day and night, with the ‘frontliners’ to ensure that the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic can be successfully curbed in Malaysia.

“He has demonstrated an excellent work ethic and level of professionalism in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic since last March,” said Akmal in a statement today.

“Instead, the Bintulu MP should question the role played by the Minister of Health Dr Adham Baba and his two deputy ministers who so far have not shown any significant work and contribution to help address the Covid-19 pandemic,” claimed the PKR MP.

Akmal also attributed the third wave of Covid-19 which has hit Sabah to the “greed of the Perikatan Nasional government” in trying to seize the state government and causing state elections to be held.

“I hope the Bintulu MP can immediately make an apology and take lessons from this incident,” he said.

Veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang called Tiong’s remarks “unparliamentary conduct” and asked if Tiong himself had proved he is “not afraid to die” by going over from Bintulu in Sarawak to Sabah.

“Tiong should apologise for his unwarranted attack on the health director-general.

“In fact, I would like to ask Tiong whether he was speaking on behalf of the Health Minister when he attacked the Health director-general in Parliament.

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“Why didn’t Tiong direct his fire against the Health Minister, who has proved to be an invisible Health Minister after his series of “air suam”, “500 nations”, and “15 states” bloopers?” asked the Lim, who is the Iskandar Puteri MP.

Former Perak menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said Tiong had insulted Dr Noor Hisham and belittled the DG’s credibility with his words.

“He has indirectly insulted the entire front line, especially the staff of the Ministry of Health Malaysia who are fighting for their lives in the face of this Covid-19 crisis.

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“Perak Amanah believes that the actions of the Bintulu MP were very rude and immature and done for cheap publicity,” added Nizar who is the Sungai Rapat state assemblyperson.

He said that Tiong, as part of the government, should not have issued such a sensitive statement.

Nizar said Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman Said should have been more firm in asking Tiong to withdraw his words and apologise.

“Perak Amanah is of the view that Dr Noor Hisham has become a victim of inappropriate politicking. While he tried his best every day to fight Covid-19, where are the health minister and his deputies?” asked Nizar.

Meanwhile, Muslim youth group Abim also blasted Tiong saying that the Health Minister and the cabinet are ultimately responsible, not the civil service.

“It is not fair for a national hero such as Dr Noor Hisham who is not a Member of Parliament, to be attacked on a platform where he himself does not have the right of reply to defend himself, said Abim in a statement today.

Abim argued that it was convention that a minister be accountable to Parliament for the conduct of his department, and that if Tiong was not happy, he should seek clarification from Dr Adham, who is his own coalition colleague.

Tiong, in his statement of clarification yesterday, said the Health Ministry should have acted more decisively in containing the spread of the disease, and again questioned the director-general for supposedly not inspecting the situation in Sabah personally to prescribe the right course of action.

“Many have wondered why the director-general cannot himself visit the pandemic areas to give a first-hand report on the actual situation to the National Security Council and prime minister as soon as possible?

“Instead of holding those daily press conferences, he should focus entirely on pandemic prevention work and hand over daily updates to the senior minister for defence,” said Tiong, who is from the Progressive Democratic Party.

Noor Hisham countered that he had visited Sabah in late-August to oversee the Health Ministry’s preparations ahead of the Sabah state election in September.

“As a Muslim, I have accepted that death can happen anywhere. What is important for us is our intention, which is to carry out our duties and break the chain of infection,” he added. – Malaysiakini