Conflicting statements by Ministers show govt clueless on tackling pandemic – Dr Yii

Khairy (left) and Ismail Sabri

By Chew Lip Song

CONFLICTING statements by two federal Ministers hours apart yesterday on the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) shows the government has probably lost control and is clueless on how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, a Sarawak lawmaker said.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said early yesterday morning, Science Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said that locations listed under the newly-introduced HIDE system as Covid-19 hotspots would not be closed unless directed to do so by the authorities.

“In the evening, the Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob came out with a late statement ordering all those listed under HIDE to be closed immediately contradicting the earlier statement made by Khairy.

“While I am supportive of pro-active measures and proper pre-emptive interventions, but the parameters and methodology of identification of such areas under HIDE must be clear and backed by science if not we may see unintended consequences including stigma towards a certain business area that can significantly affect their business, or worst as seen today business being ordered to close without proper explanation,” Dr Yii said in a statement today.

He also called on the Federal Government and the National Security Council (NSC) to immediately disclose the methodology and parameters used by the HIDE system to identify premises and location that is predicted to be a potential hot-spot or cluster.

Last-minute announcements would not only inconvenient the public, but affect business owners trying to stay afloat.

“The conflicting announcements by different Ministers on the same issue on the same day itself speaks volume of how the government has probably lost control or have no clue how to deal with this pandemic,” he added.

Dr Yii added that the list of locations under HIDE showed that majority of the hotspots were shopping malls around the country but this contradicted earlier data which showed that workplace clusters contributed 48.06 per cent of Covid-19 infections, followed by Community Spread(12.5%) and construction sites (11.56%) .

“The government must also properly engage with all the necessary stakeholders and explain the mechanism and methodology to come up with a comprehensive way forward in order to prevent any unwarranted negative impact to any industry involved.

“I am sure, if given proper explanation and adequate planning and guidelines for businesses, they are more than willing to comply, and the public can also make the necessary adjustments. If the government really believes this is the best mode of action, they wouldn’t be afraid to explain it properly to the public.

“However, if the government make sudden and rash decisions without proper explanation based on science and data, it just shows how they have lost it and an admission of failure to handle this pandemic.”