PETALING JAYA: As frontliners in the Covid-19 crisis, senior ministers say they have to put themselves at risk as they hold face-to-face meetings on ways to overcome the pandemic.
These ministers said they would continue with meetings to handle official matters but political party gatherings and celebrations in conjunction with the formation of the new Perikatan Nasional government had been cancelled for now.
Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (pic) and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said from the onset of being appointed into the Perikatan Nasional Cabinet, all ministers were given a full briefing on the situation in the country, as announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday.
“We are facing a mega crisis and we have to take the risk (by not social distancing) to discuss ways to overcome the situation for the rakyat.
“Other political gatherings are to stop as well as kenduri (feast) and thanksgiving gatherings. I have cancelled my kenduri kesyukuran (thanksgiving feast) today.
“We have to set our priorities and political leaders must follow the guidelines set by the Health Ministry.
“Ministers are guided by the Health Ministry and the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) on what needs to be done and what ought not to be done during the crisis, ” said Azmin, who is a senior minister in charge of finance, economic affairs and international trade and industry.
He added that the Health Ministry advised the Cabinet on Friday during a special meeting on Covid-19 that there should not be any gatherings until April 30.
“During the meeting, some concerns were raised about school assemblies. Based on such concerns, we were advised not to hold any events until April 30.
“We will continue to be vigilant and study ways in which all ministries and agencies can stay on top of things in this fight to combat Covid-19.”
Works Minister Fadillah said that it was pertinent for ministers to follow the guidelines (such as checking temperature, social distancing and frequent washing of hands) set by the Health Ministry.
“For now, we must follow whatever has been put in place and stop the shaking of hands and use hand on chest gestures, ” said Fadillah. However, several ministers have admitted they did not abide by the guidelines to stop shaking hands.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said she knew she should have restrained from shaking hands with people.
“We were all given guidelines on contact but some of us, myself included, have not strictly abided by it. I will stop shaking hands from today, ” said Zuraida.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said that it was a challenge to change the mindset of Malaysians who insist on shaking hands.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the outbreak was a top priority in Cabinet.
“Covid-19 remains on top of the agenda at all our meetings, ” he said.
Opposition parties in Pakatan Harapan were also not spared from having to curb their activities due to the pandemic.
A number of major gatherings organised to feature top leaders of PKR, Amanah and the small fraction of Bersatu leaders were called off at the last minute.
Among them was a Jelajah Harapan roadshow event, which was supposed to feature former Pakatan ministers Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman of Bersatu and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, and planned for yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.
Another event that was also cancelled was the weekly religious gathering at PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s residence, which normally features Anwar hosting top clerics and his supporters.
Anwar had also stated on March 13 that the government and all political leaders should prioritise containing the Covid-19 pandemic above all matters and put politics aside.