Opposition lawmakers never agreed to suspend Parliament if there were any positive Covid-19 cases, Seremban MP Anthony Loke tells Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The DAP national organising secretary said that he had attended the meeting chaired by Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun last Monday (July 26) to represent DAP, together with PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Parti Amanah Negara strategic director Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“The three of us agreed that the Parliament sitting must proceed, but it must take into consideration all the necessary standard operating procedures (SOP), including taking swab tests prior to the sitting for all lawmakers,” he said in a statement late Sunday night (Aug 1).
On Sunday, the Health Ministry has advised Parliament sitting and meetings at its premises to be postponed for two weeks, starting July 29.
The Health director-general had said that the suggestion was made based on the health risk assessment and to prevent transmission of Covid-19 in Parliament.
The Health Ministry defended the decision, stating that six out of the 11 people who tested positive were highly contagious.
It was likely they carried the highly infectious Delta variant, the ministry added.
Noor Hisham had said it was previously agreed between both the government and Opposition that should there be a positive case detected among those who physically attended Parliament, the five-day special Parliament sitting would be halted immediately.
Noor Hisham also said the agreement was made on Monday at 8am, in a meeting that included the Deputy Prime Minister, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and other representatives from both the government and Opposition.
Loke added that he had suggested that if there were any concerns, lawmakers were ready to undergo Covid-19 test each week and if they are found positive, they must be quarantined immediately.
“The screening test involving 1,000 individuals on Thursday in Parliament also detected only 1% of the positivity rate. It is inappropriate to suspend Parliament for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil questioned Noor Hisham’s advice against Parliament from reopening due to concerns over a potential Covid-19 superspreader event.
Taking to Twitter yesterday, the PKR communications director pointed out that no similar advice was made last week following reports of visits, including by MPs, to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s house.
“Where was the concerned advice from @DGHisham when tens of people went back and forth to Muhyiddin’s house last week?
“And many of those people also attended Parliament? Selective concern?” asked Fahmi.
Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang also described Noor Hisham’s statement about the superspreader as most unfortunate.
“Where is the evidence? Is it just to frighten the MPs?” the DAP veteran asked.
“There were 11 cases out of 1,183 staff. If all 1,183 were tested, then the positivity rate is about one percent, which is nowhere near superspreader status.”
“The other justification for superspreader possibility is a new variant? Were genomic studies done? If so, what are the results? ”
Lim opined that the Parliament proceeding of fully vaccinated MPs should continue.
“The prime minister is fully vaccinated. Why is he not coming to Parliament to answer all the questions the country is asking?”