Sarawak MP demands explanation from MoH over postponement of special Parliament sitting

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen speaks during an interview with Malay Mail at Parliament August 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen speaks during an interview with Malay Mail at Parliament August 25, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUCHING, Aug 3 ― Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii has called upon the Ministry of Health (MoH) to explain the reason behind the usage of cycle threshold (CT) values to postpone the special parliamentary sitting.

He said this in response to a statement made by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah late Sunday, warning about a ‘super-spreader event’ that could erupt in Parliament if the special parliamentary sitting was not postponed, following the detection of six highly-infectious individuals with low CT values.

Adding on, Yii said the low CT level, which was the main justification used ‘to paint a picture of high infectivity’, was never used as a metric for public health decision-making.

He regarded CT as more of ‘a virology tool’ rather than a metric used to make decisions on how long a location must be closed.

“Even if the CT value is low, as long as the patient is properly isolated, and all other SOP (standard operating procedures) is properly adhered to, the source of transmission would be isolated; thus, the mode of transmission would be cut off.

“There is no logical explanation as to why the Parliament cannot continue to function, especially four days after the detected cases.

“That’s why the Health director-general and even the MOH must come out to answer to us – when has MOH used CT value to make public health decisions prior to Aug 1? Please show us hard data, instead of general statements.

 “Other than that, other environmental factors used in the Health director-general’s statement could be adjusted, including improving ventilation in Parliament. There’s no need to close down the whole Parliament for two weeks just to deal with 0.9 per cent of positive cases in Parliament,” he said in a statement.

Yii added that the statement by Dr Noor Hisham to try justifying the closing of Parliament seemed to ‘double down on proper science’, even contrary to the federal government’s own National Recovery Plan (NRP) parameter for safe opening of workplaces or the economy.

“A functioning parliamentary democracy is an essential service, especially during a pandemic as there must be appropriate public scrutiny, law-making and broad discussions to address core issues, especially on the Emergency Ordinance, which has far-reaching influence on our economy, health and approach towards Covid-19.”

Yii said in many essential service facilities, they also had to deal with daily positive cases, but their functions had also not been drastically disrupted.

One such example, he pointed out, was the Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC) vaccination centre (PPV) in Shah Alam, which only closed only for one day to give way for sanitisation works after more than 200 Covid-19 positive cases were detected there.

He then questioned why this could not be done in Parliament.

 “Science and public health must be apolitical.

“Parliament should have been the highest example used by the government to confidently assure the public about its NRP measures, especially to open economic sectors and workplaces safely.

“Instead, it has sadly shown to exemplify incompetency and non-science-based decisions,” he pointed out. ― Borneo Post

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