Outcry in parliament after Tiong says Health DG “afraid to die”

By S. Harrish

THERE was pandemonium in Parliament earlier today after Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah “is afraid to die” for not coming down personally to Sabah to monitor the Covid-19 situation.

His remarks prompted an outcry in the Dewan Rakyat with lawmakers protesting the statement made by Tiong when debating the Budget 2021.

He said Dr Noor Hisham “takut mati” because he did not come down to Sabah and did not declare a lockdown in prison.

Tiong also questioned the DG’s reluctance to visit hospitals and assist those on the front line while accusing him of only hogging the news.

“Why didn’t he go out into the field, such as in Kota Kinabalu which is very bad, the Covid-19 pandemic is worsening. Why didn’t he visit every hospital, temporary hospital, go there and give moral support to the frontliners. Doctors, nurses are all working (on locations there).

“Don’t just send doctors and nurses there. Oh, those frontliners aren’t afraid of dying but DG is. His deputy did not go either. What is happening? No need to do daily briefings. I hear that he now wants (to become) World Health Organisation secretary-general, that is not right, I think,” Bernama quoted him saying.

Jelutong MP RSN Rayer and other opposition MPs then stood up and demanded Tiong withdraw his remark, but he refused and this sparked a war of words among the MPs.

“I won’t allow him to attack the DG. The DG is a frontliner!” said Rayer.

The Sarawak MP did not budge and stuck to his remarks.

A shouting match followed, with Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Said calling on Rayer to sit down to allow her to make a ruling.

The MP said he will not sit until Tiong retracted his statement.

Azalina then ejected Rayer from the House and asked the sergeant-at-arms to escort him out when he refused to leave.

When proceedings resumed, she asked if Tiong wanted to apologise for his remarks or provide an explanation.

Tiong maintained that he will not retract his statement, saying he is merely passing along the message of frontliners and the public.

Other attempts by Pakatan Harapan MPs to demand that Azalina make a ruling and reprimand Tiong failed.