One-day Parliament sitting due to MOH? Health D-G says only advising on Covid-19

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya April 27, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 in Putrajaya April 27, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 27 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) said today it is only advising the government on matters pertaining to Covid-19 and nothing else, after de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the one-day Parliament sitting was based on its advice.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today that the ministry does not have the jurisdiction to advise Putrajaya over other matters.

“We advise based on data and facts on Covid-19. Whether the cases are increasing or decreasing and the progress of transmissions in the country.

“Other than that, it’s beyond MOH to advise the government on policy matters,” he said during his daily briefing.

DAP MP Lim Kit Siang had earlier in a press statement cast doubt on Takiyuddin’s claim, and asked Dr Noor Hisham to explain whether the MOH has a hand in Putrajaya’s decision.

Echoing his sentiments, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim argued that the government’s decision to limit the upcoming Parliamentary sitting to only one day is pointless.

Describing Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement for the one-day inaugural session on May 18 as unsurprising, Anwar said such a move would ultimately prove redundant as nothing much can be achieved during the brief period.

Dr Noor Hisham said that if the session takes place, they will take all the necessary measures to ensure people are screened before entering the premises.

“[Parliament] is also like another institution whereby [for example] if you come to the MOH we make sure there are thermal scans and screenings. All that will be in place,” added Dr Noor Hisham.

“These are all part of the new norms now. Whether it’s Parliament or a restaurant or if you go to any institution there will be temperature screening, social distancing and maintaining of good personal hygiene.

“That’s what we encourage and of course, no more handshakes. Everyone has to practise this in the country,” he added.

Earlier this week, de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan shot down the Opposition’s call for a full Parliament sitting on May 18, and in a stinging response called it premature, narrow and failing to grasp priorities.

The decision to limit the May 18 proceeding to table a Supplementary Bill for the Covid-19 stimulus package was grounded on “reality”, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said in a statement, citing the authorities’ efforts to rein in the coronavirus outbreak.

The Pakatan Harapan coalition is pushing to extend the May 18 sitting for at least two days, and have sought a meeting with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof in a bid to expedite the request.

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