Is New Year countdown event an “essential service”?

Dr Kelvin Yii – Picture from the New Sarawak Tribune

By Emma Victoria

BANDAR Kuching MP has questioned whether a New Year eve countdown event is considered as “essential services” that allowed artists for the event to be exempted from the mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Sarawak.

Dr Kelvin Yii said the artist reportedly flew in from Kuala Lumpur, which is currently a red zone, yet she was given special treatment or clearance.

“Why there seems to be double standards in the treatment for ordinary folks coming into the state and some VVIPs.”

“Is a New Year eve countdown event now considered as “essential services” that the artist was exempted from quarantine and given special treatment?” he questioned.

Yii also urged the Sarawak government to postpone the countdown event, which is expected to be attended by 1,000 people tomorrow.

“The main issue is not only about the artist being exempted from the quarantine but the idea to organise an event with 1,000 invited guests in the middle of a pandemic.

“This is despite Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri saying that all mass gatherings are not allowed nationwide and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee has been constantly reminding and urging people to avoid crowded places,” he said.

Yii said the money used to organise such a grand event should instead be channeled to help the people or as a token of appreciation to the frontliners.

He also urged Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to apologise to civil servants for calling them ‘smartass’ merely for doing their jobs.

Yesterday, the Minister had expressed his dissatisfaction after singer Dayang Nurfaizah was made to do a second Covid-19 swab test and quarantined when she entered Sarawak, despite having clearance.

According to Abdul Karim, the artist was exempted from the mandatory quarantine as she entered under the special procedure.

“For me it is an insult to all the hard working front liners out there, who on a daily basis put their lives at risk just so that we are cared for and protected,” Yii stressed.

Meanwhile, Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said Abdul Karim’s “smartass” remark against the SDMC front-liner was most uncalled for.

“The front-liners are just doing their job according to the SOP set by the SDMC. There is no necessity to name-calling them or using such harsh words against them.”

He said when the Health Ministry have been asking people not to gather together unnecessarily, even to the extent of limiting numbers to 20 during Christmas celebration, it is mind-boggling that the GPS government was now organising the countdown celebration.

“Abdul Karim tries to justify the event by saying it is organised to reward the front-liners. I believe there are better ways to reward them.

“To do something that have high risk and will potentially add on to their workload and burden is surely not the right way to reward them,” he added.