By John Isaac
A PKR women’s wing leader has questioned if Edmund Santhara’s position as deputy Federal Territories minister is needed, after his announcement that he had been granted leave of 55 working days.
Loh Ker Chean, communications director of PKR Wanita, also questioned if the state of emergency was not even needed as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had allowed the deputy minister to take leave for such a long period during a time of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
“The question here is whether the position held by Santhara is important in the cabinet now? Simply put, if he is able to disappear just like that for 55 days with the permission of the prime minister, does this mean that the emergency situation proposed by the government is not as severe as described?” she said.
Santhara had issued a statement on Sunday after questions were raised about how he was allowed to go abroad and be away in time of crisis. He said Muhyiddin had allowed him to go on leave to be in New Zealand with his family, partly because his wife is ill, and to visit his children who are studying there.
He left for New Zealand on Dec 23 and was in quarantine for two weeks.
Loh criticised Muhyiddin’s decision for approving the leave, saying that the Cabinet is also responsible for the frontliners who are unable to carry out their roles as parents, children or spouses in their families.
“They sacrifice time with family because they understand the importance of their task in fighting Covid-19,” she said as reported by Free Malaysia Today.
She also criticised Santhara for not giving priority to national needs, saying: “I regret the attitude of Santhara who did not immediately think of shortening his leave and returning to Malaysia to join hands with Malaysians to fight the Covid-19 epidemic at this difficult time after the declaration of emergency which was implemented since Jan 12.”
She urged him to return and apologise to the people or resign immediately for failing to perform his duties, especially during the emergency period.
She also called on Muhyiddin to sack Santhara to restore the people’s confidence in the government.