Malaysian opposition leader: Health Minister ‘fiddles while Rome burns’

As the influenza A(H1N1) death toll continues to rise in the country, almost on a daily basis, an opposition leader takes Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai to task.

Seven people have since perished, the latest being a 24-year-old mother in Sarawak who delivered her first child two weeks ago.

In view of the alarming situation, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang expressed his disappointment with the MCA health minister for focusing more on party matters.

“It is shocking and outrageous that at a time when the country is facing the onslaught of two killer epidemics, A(H1N1) and dengue, they are not the No 1 priority concern of the health minister who abdicated his responsibility to his director-general Dr Ismail Merican,” he said in a statement.

According to Lim, the minister has spent his time and energy in the past crucial weeks to go around the various states in the country with MCA president Ong Tee Keat.

The nationwide tour is to prop up Ong’s stocks in the MCA power struggle with number two Dr Chua Soi Lek, he added.

Lim pointed out that this is why there are those who liken “him (Liow) to Nero who fiddle(d) while Rome burns!”

Prove the critics wrong

The opposition leader said there is already grumbling on the ground that Liow is proving to be the country’s worst MCA health minister.

“He should prove these critics wrong and the first thing he must do is to stop being a bystander and assume responsibility as commander-in-chief in the battle against the A(H1N1) flu and dengue epidemics,” he added.

The DAP leader also called on the minister to state if he endorsed the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates and warning that some 110,000-500,000 people in Malaysia would have to seek hospitalisation in the A(H1N1) outbreak and that there could be as many as 5,500-28,000 deaths from the deadly flu.

“If not, what are Liow’s own figures and statistics?” he asked.

However, Lim said if the minister endorses the WHO’s dire warnings, then he must reveal the contingency plans in store.

The second thing that Liow should do, he said, it to get the cabinet on Wednesday to include targets in the war against A(H1N1) and dengue, as the seventh National Key Result Areas (NKRA).

“Gerakan president and Key Performance Index (KPI) Minister Koh Tsu Koon should give his full support in cabinet on Wednesday to include the targets to win the war against the two killer epidemics in the NKRAs by the end of next year – with monthly as well as six-monthly targets,” he added.


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