Batu MP questions deputy minister’s 55-day NZ holiday while Malaysia faces Covid-19, economic crises

The first-term lawmaker pointed out that countless Malaysians have made painful sacrifices due to the pandemic and measures to contain it, such as being kept apart from their families and even being prevented from attending the funerals of their loved ones. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The first-term lawmaker pointed out that countless Malaysians have made painful sacrifices due to the pandemic and measures to contain it, such as being kept apart from their families and even being prevented from attending the funerals of their loved ones. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Batu MP P. Prabakaran criticised Federal Territories Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Edmund Santhara Kumar today over the latter’s admission that he was on a 55-day holiday in New Zealand.

The PKR lawmaker, who was among to raise claims about the deputy minister’s absence, also maintained that Edmund has not satisfactorily explained why he had to be away so long when Malaysia was grappling with severe problems.

“When the country is facing multiple crises such as Covid-19 and the economic situation, what is the rationale of a deputy minister, who is responsible to the people and the country, taking up to 55 days of leave?

“If his leave were for an emergency or safety reasons, we would agree. But this excuse of taking a break is unconvincing to Malaysians,” Prabakaran said in a statement.

The first-term lawmaker pointed out that countless Malaysians have made painful sacrifices due to the pandemic and measures to contain it, such as being kept apart from their families and even being prevented from attending the funerals of their loved ones.

Prabakaran said the deputy minister’s explanation was also a slap in the face to Malaysians who could not return to the country, either because they could not secure permission to do so or could not afford the cost of the mandatory quarantine.

On Edmund’s claim of defamation about Prabakaran’s revelations, the Batu MP told the deputy minister to point out what specifically in his previous remarks was defamatory.

“Is it slander to say a deputy minister is taking a 55-day holiday outside the country during both an Emergency and MCO? Is it slander that some constituents could not meet their elected representative when their parliamentary area was flooded?

“Is it slander that victims of a fire at the Sentul Market asked to meet with the FT deputy minister to express their grouses? Where is the slander?” Prabakaran said.

Prabakaran said that if exposing the actions a deputy minister merited a lawsuit, then he was prepared to face it on behalf of Malaysians.

After news reports emerged that he was outside of Malaysia, Edmund issued a statement today confirming that he has been holidaying in New Zealand since December.

However, he insisted that his leave was approved by the Prime Minister’s Department and that his exit from the country followed the procedures set out by the Immigration Department.

Edmund said he was in New Zealand to visit his wife and son, justifying the break by saying he has not taken any leave since his appointment March of 2020.

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