Khaled Nordin moots new ‘czar’ to lead Covid-19 fight, says pandemic now beyond Health D-G’s ambit

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Umno’s Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin today urged the government to map out new strategies to combat the raging Covid-19 pandemic, including appointing a new “czar” to coordinate all related efforts.

The Umno vice president said despite the commendable efforts of Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah since the start of the pandemic, Covid-19 has gone beyond a health issue and deteriorated into a complex problem of national importance.

“A new general with fresh ideas and strategy is needed to lead an inter-ministry, multi-department, and multi-agency team to respond swiftly to the fast-changing nature of the pandemic.

“The director-general of Health has been working tirelessly to keep Malaysia from sinking. Nonetheless, this situation has evolved to be a multifaceted issue beyond his power,” he said in a statement.

Khaled said his proposed Covid-19 “czar” would not replace Dr Noor Hisham as the Health D-G, but instead handle the collective inter-ministerial efforts being put forward to curb the effects of the pandemic.

“The new general will focus on combating Covid-19 and coordinating response in all fronts including health, safety, welfare, and economy.

“It is time for us to not treat this as a health crisis, but a national issue.

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“Ministries can no longer work in silo. We need a new czar for our renewed approach to combat Covid-19,” he said.

Khaled warned that without a proper and more sustainable strategy to handle the current onslaught of infections, the country risks overwhelming its healthcare system to the point of collapse.

He pressed further on the need for a new approach, pointing out it should also factor in solutions to kickstart the sluggish economy, while also prioritising students and the education system who have been left with uncertainties since the pandemic.

Khaled then praised all the efforts being done by charity and welfare groups, but also warned the country to not become over-reliant on alms and handouts.

“It is extremely inspiring to see charity work helping out the less fortunate, but equally worrying to see people looking out to them than our government,” he quipped.

Malaysia is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections, arguably the worst since the first case that was reported here just over a year ago, with more than 101,000 new infections and almost 300 deaths recorded in January alone. – MMO