KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Opposition lawmaker Lim Guan Eng hopes new Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin will do better than his predecessor and make decisions quickly for Malaysia’s recovery from the ongoing Covid-19 nightmare.
The Bagan MP noted that Khairy has a challenge on his hands to rein in the climbing daily Covid-19 cases and deaths, and called on the latter to act with urgency rather than take the full 100 days given by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to all ministers as their key performance index target to improve the country’s current situation.
“The challenge is not to show results within 100 days as set by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob because 100 days is too long a period in the context of a rapidly evolving pandemic that can cause more lives to be unnecessarily lost.
“There must be a sense of utmost urgency to complete the revamp in the shortest possible time, bearing in mind the lessons learnt from the botched on-line registration of AstraZeneca vaccine, despite spending RM70 million on the MySejahtera app,” Lim said in a statement today.
The DAP secretary-general expressed confidence that Khairy is up to the task, but also reminded the Umno lawmaker to avoid the pitfalls of his predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
“We believe that Khairy would not repeat the ridiculous gaffes of his predecessor that made Malaysia the butt of international jokes, from drinking warm water to prevent Covid-19 to confusing Spanish flu with Spanish fly,” he said.
The Health Ministry recorded 20,897 new Covid-19 cases and 282 new deaths as of yesterday. Cumulatively, there have been 1,461,727 cases of infections in Malaysia since the pandemic began and 16,664 deaths so far.
Although cases in the Klang Valley — which in mid-August had made up nearly half the daily cases reported nationwide — have decreased after a vigorous vaccination campaign, the number of cases in states outside the area such as Johor, Sabah and Penang have taken a turn for the worse.
Lim urged the new health minister to speed up both vaccination and testing rates.
He pointed out that vaccination rates had dropped below the previous target of 500,000 jabs a day in the last three days, and cited data showing 36,632 doses administered on August 29, followed by 302,804 doses on August 30 and 361,381 doses on August 31.
Lim also claimed that testing rates were too low and insisted that more needed to be done as a preventive measure against Covid-19. To Lim, mass screening tests should cover at least 1 per cent of Malaysia’s population, or 320,000 tests daily.
“Public anger is also directed at the poor support given to Covid-19 positive patients in terms of health care and advice.
“In the United Kingdom, the relevant authorities not only took the initiative to call up Covid-19 patients daily but also offered to buy them groceries.
“In contrast, here we receive despairing complaints from Covid-19 patients that there is no response for their desperate cries for help whether in calling for ambulances, ICU beds, purchase of necessities and food, medical treatment or admission to quarantine centres,” he said.
Khairy was sworn in as health minister just two days ago and started work officially the same day.
He was previously the science, technology and innovation minister in the previous government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, but was already in charge of coordinating the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.