GEORGE TOWN: Accepting that state governments do not have the power to decide on the entry of healthcare travellers into the country, Penang is appealing to the Federal Government to halt it temporarily.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Federal Government should deny entry to healthcare travellers for now and hold a “communication exercise” to explain to the public what the procedures were.
“We fully understand that under Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988), it is the Federal Government that decides on such policy matters and we know that we have to comply.
“That’s why we want the Federal Government to consider temporarily not accepting foreign patients seeking treatment in Penang.
“We were caught unprepared. Decisions were made without informing us.
“Although it comes under federal jurisdiction, I think the state, at the receiving end, should be informed,” Chow told a press conference yesterday.
Chow said after being prompted by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the State Secretary wrote to Immigration Department about the entry of foreign patients at Penang International Airport.
“It is not new that since the movement control order was imposed in March, the various states have given views on certain policy decisions. So it is a process where states can also give their input,” he said.
Two advanced stage cancer patients and a youngster with a severe heart problem arrived from Indonesia in a specially chartered flight last Friday.
Both patients had a companion each.
However, the public was not informed of the details and were only told that the first medical charter flight had arrived in Penang from Medan.
Civil society groups raised an alarm, and Chow then said the state would not allow it.
Ismail Sabri clarified on Tuesday that state governments have no power to make such a decision and must abide by the Federal Government’s decision.
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