Weekly Highlights

Sabah State Government should heed Agong’s call – be magnanimous and start including opposition members and civil society in the state government’s fight against Covid-19

I totally agree and would like to echo DAP Advisor Lim Kit Siang’s recent suggestion for the Malaysian Parliament to set up a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Covid-19 to set an example of an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mindset and approach in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Lim Kit Siang’s call is directed at the Perikatan Nasional Federal Government led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, I would like to direct the same call at the Sabah State Government, which is led by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Nor who is similarly from the Perikatan Nasional political coalition.

Lim Kit Siang has repeatedly called for an all-of-government approach to battling Covid-19

The legislature is one of the three branches of government with the executive and judiciary being the other two. In combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sabah state government (i.e. the executive) should carry out an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mindset and immediately cease the mentality of excluding opposition members of the state assembly from taking part in the state’s effort and war against Covid-19.

Just yesterday, the Chief Minister had announced the setting up of a Sabah Economic Council to chart the way forward in the State’s economic recovery. He said the council members are to be announced in the near future and would comprise captains of various industries, businessmen, non-governmental organisations and academicians. 

I hereby call upon Hajiji to be more inclusive and to have bi-partisanship in mind when appointing the council members. 

 Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has made no indication he will include the opposition in helping to fight Covid-19 in Sabah.

It is to be noted that Warisan, DAP, PKR, UPKO all together won 43.42% of the total valid votes casted, more than what PN, BN and PBS received at 43.21%. It’s a great share of the society which Hajiji could not ignore.

Right now, there is an apparent lack of inclusiveness by the Sabah State Government as they have been seen to turn a deaf ear to opposition member’s suggestion and give the opposition a cold shoulder whenever we offer to help. 

It is very sad when the State Government puts sustaining their own political capital as priority and would rather not allow the opposition do something that would help if it would end up increasing the opposition’s popularity amongst the people. 

Whilst they are politicians at their core, they should start thinking as a human being and do what is best for the other fellow human being.

We all know that Sabah needs immediate emergency aid in various forms, and yet the state government lacks resources, be it human resource, food supply, logistics, or even cash. 

Sabah has been pushed to the brink by the third wave of Covid-19.

This can be seen through the current tragic news being viral in cyberspace, including how Covid-19 positive patients in various parts of Sabah are not being given immediate attention to be send to hospitals for timely treatment, frontliners in Sabah including medical personnel suffering from exhaustion and depression, positive cases and close contacts of positive cases being suffering from stigmatisation and/or forced to take unpaid leave due to mandatory self-quarantine as Persons Under Surveillance, etc. 

Clearly, much help is needed, and yet Hajiji seems to be painfully oblivious to the various forms of problems, is powerless to the same, or has been deliberately sweeping the problems under the carpet in the hopes that nobody finds them. 

I really doubt Hajiji has an effective plan to be rolled out to deal with all the impacts of Covid-19. What is the opposition role in his plan? Or has he disregarded and treated as if the opposition and their supporters don’t exist? He may want to have a talk with opposition representatives, especially those living in the cities and town areas. 

Even with the state government not giving a single sen in allocation to opposition members, we have been able to help nonetheless thanks to donations from the public. 

Like for example in Luyang, the state assemblyperson here Phoong Jin Zhe has been able to raise over RM50,000.00 which he then used to prepare more than 1,000 food baskets worth approximately RM43.20 each to be distributed to the hardcore urban poor and those in need. 

Sabah state assemblyperson here Phoong Jin Zhe has been able to raise over RM50,000.00 to buy food baskets for the poor

Furthermore, my own Kota Kinabalu Parliamentary Service Centre had also managed to raise over RM15,000.00 as at yesterday (28 October) for the purposes of conducting of disinfection of public places around Kota Kinabalu city centre. 

I would like to hereby express my deepest appreciation towards members of the society for their small donations in making our program doable. 
We don’t do politicking during the pandemic. It will be very discouraging and disheartening for the volunteers who volunteered through opposition ADUN’s offices if the PN state government continues to sideline us – just imagine how much more we could have done with more resources from the state government at hand. 

Therefore, we humbly ask that Hajiji be inclusive enough to include the opposition to combat the impacts of Covid-19, together.

Even the Penang state government has given RM30,000 to each assemblyman, including those from the opposition, under the Pakej Bantuan Khas Penang Lawan Covid-19 (Penang Fights Covid-19 Special Assistance Package) so that they can provide immediate assistance to their respective constituents.

More than that, Penang opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor , in late March 2020, was invited to be a member of the high-level Penang Security Council Committee to provide advice to DAP-led Penang government in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic together.

Other than efforts from us the opposition, members of the public and civil society have also stepped up in the effort to combat Covid-19. 

Like for example, the Sabah Real Estate Developers Association (SHAREDA) has offered Sabah hotels as temporary isolation treatment centres as it could alleviate the heavy utilisation of hospital beds in Sabah which currently stands at 95 per cent. This is an offer from the society, and it is about time the government accept such an offer so as to achieve a “whole-of-society”.

I, on a personal level, wholeheartedly support the idea to accept offers by hotels who offer themselves as temporary isolation or quarantine centres as it will not only support the hotels but the catering industry after being hit hard by the pandemic.

What a better way to kill two birds with one stone, and I would like to hereby praise SHAREDA for making such a selfless offer.

Other than that, it is also about time the state government recognise and assist Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) such as Semporna Heroes who go out of their way to no only organise but also distribute food baskets to those in need, especially in Semporna where it is like a war zone out there. This “whole-of-society” approach by the state government is direly in need.

With regards to the propose emergency, ceasefire, and Agong’s advice, I personally have no problem with a ceasefire and even to support Muhyiddin’s 2021 budget. 

However, the issue is will Muhyiddin continue to give us members of the opposition the cold shoulder? Will he embrace we, as the representatives of our respective constituents?

Is Muhyiddin willing to consider extending the automatic moratorium for all loans? Is he willing to amend the Covid-19 Act to include more safeguards as recommended by the opposition?

Is the DAP’s terms and condition as stated by Anthony Loke so unacceptable that he could not even consider them?

At the end of the day, the main issue will boil down to whether Muhyiddin is willing to be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians and not just for a certain political faction.


MP for Kota Kinabalu

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