By Tiong King Sing
KUCHING, Malaysia--Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin can stop being arrogant and conceited, let alone side-step the fact that Health Director-General Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah is not doing great at all in fighting this pandemic.

Since the outbreak of this pandemic, a total of 31,696 people have died unnecessarily. Compared to Malaysia’s 32 million population, shouldn’t this number worry us?

As far as I know, these only cover reported and published data. It would be even more heartbreaking to add in those numbers that were unreported.

This high mortality rate is not something we can deny, excuse, or normalise. How could we continue on like this? How many more lives must be sacrificed before our ministers really start to prevent more deaths?

It does not take a genius to know that data on deaths and confirmed cases are being manipulated by some unseen hands. After a friend of mine tested positive, he had asked the Ministry of Health for assistance and was simply told to self-isolate at home.

He does not even need an isolation bracelet! He was told that he doesn’t have to go to the hospital, only to do regular self-tests and only contact the KKM if his situation worsens.

This is nothing less than leaving the confirmed patients to their own devices. Is this what you call a successful pandemic prevention strategy? What happens if a patient refuses to stay put and goes out to the public? If this kind of strategy continues, is this Minister of Health really worth keeping around?

In my previous statement on the government’s Omicron strategy, I had not told the Minister of Health to ape China’s lockdown strategies.

On the contrary, I explicitly stated that a lockdown will not be viable because our people are already suffering.

I was truly taken aback when, instead of responding to my questions, Khairy simply said Malaysia is not able to use lockdowns and zero-tolerance strategies and resort to defending shoe-polishers.

I have merely urged the Ministry of Health to at least communicate with China to adopt the appropriate and effective portions of their strategy to reduce our mortality rates of COVID in Malaysia, rather than dressing up the mortality rates to justify MOH’s strategies.

In terms of medicine, Chinese and Western medicine have come up with a range of brands that allow people to choose, instead of being blindly forced to take whatever the MOH peddles out.

How many lockdowns have been implemented in the past two years? What other strategies does the DG have? You were also in the Cabinet at the time, and you are well aware that there were other ministers who had questioned the DG on the pandemic prevention strategy even then.

China’s lockdowns were successful almost immediately but Malaysia was flooded with more and more cases even with lockdowns after lockdowns making us an international laughing stock!

Furthermore, when Selangor had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in 2020 due to large clusters in a number of glove factories, did Noor Hisham have any rapid response strategy to that?

Besides helplessly letting those infections break out one after another, factories were incredulously told to close in stages, while human lives were at stake. In other countries, such negligence would have resulted in the minister and directors being forced to resign immediately. Here in Malaysia, he was praised for taking it easy and doing things ‘in stages’.  

How many people in Selangor lost their lives due to these kinds of oversight? Even during the times when the home isolation policy was being implemented, how many people died due to not receiving timely treatment during their quarantine?

These are all on the hands of Noor Hisham and Khairy, issues that they dare not face directly! If these tragedies happen to their own families, will they still be able to make such lighthearted remarks in their press conferences?

I want to ask the Minister to answer the following questions head-on:

1. Why the disproportionate reaction to China? There is a lot of embarrassment towards China-designed vaccines. People can be vaccinated with vaccines from other countries for free, but why are they required to pay for Chinese vaccines? Is it true that some people are benefiting from the purchase of Western vaccines as rumoured?

2. How many vaccine doses has the MOH purchased in total since Khairy took office? How much does it cost in total? What is the purchase price of each vaccine?

3. As the Minister of Health, does Khairy really want to reduce the mortality rate of COVID and control the spread of the pandemic, by not falsely reporting data or manipulating data and vaccine purchases like some kind of czar?

I would like to remind the Minister of Health not to wait for MPs to formally table a bill calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to thoroughly investigate the action situation. This is what the people want and deserve to know.