KOTA KINABALU, July 14 — Former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said today politicians should have more empathy for the public who are struggling from Covid-19 instead of travelling overseas and squabbling amongst themselves.

The Parti Cinta Sabah president said that travelling and “taking holidays” while the public is suffering is poor behaviour and has stoked anger among the public.

“Those politicians or leaders who travel for holidays because they can are sending out negative messages to the people who are suffering the consequences of this pandemic.

“Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should [travel]. Have some empathy for the people who are losing lives, jobs and even food on the table. When the people are suffering, is it right for you to flaunt your wealth and happiness?” he asked.

His statement comes following the recent controversy of Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz who is in France, using the excuse of enrolling his son in school. The Umno leader’s wife has also been courting controversy on Instagram, posting photos of the former minister with quotes defending their actions.

Senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was also criticised after a tour guide said he and his family had joined a tour of Turkey during the former’s official visit. The post was later changed to omit the reference to the family, before being deleted altogether.

Anifah, who is former Kimanis MP also criticised politicians from both sides of the divide who are squabbling instead of focusing on helping the citizens.

“Regardless of political belief, all politicians especially elected ones and those who hold office should focus on the people. If the government cannot handle the situation then it must consider other options,” he said.

He added that currently the public is angry towards the double standards applied on politicians when it comes to Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

He said that keeping the public under continuous lockdown is not the answer, and neither was giving cash handouts or food aid indefinitely as the government too has a limited budget which is also affected by the pandemic.

He also said that in order to achieve herd immunity, while it is important to vaccinate the majority of the population, the government should also focus on the logistics to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated.

“While it is easy for urban folks to drive into vaccination centres to be vaccinated, the same cannot be said for rural folks.

“I know that there are efforts done such as outreach programmes to bring vaccines to the rural folks. This should be done continually and government agencies should work together in ensuring that the rural folks will also be vaccinated,” he said.

He added that government agencies should utilise all their assets and personnel in helping as many rural folk as possible in getting their vaccines.