IPOH: The Mentri Besar has been speaking on Covid-19 issues as the state's task force is headed by him, says Perak health committee chairman Mohd Akmal Kamaruddin.
“This is the structure used in all other states as well, and that is the reason the Mentri Besar is speaking on behalf of the Health (exco). Matters related to Covid-19 or vaccinations will be answered by the Mentri Besar, so this is not something to be shocked about,” he said.
Mohd Akmal said this after being interrupted by several assemblymen while delivering his winding-up speech at the state assembly sitting on Monday (Aug 30) when Opposition assemblymen told him to not shield behind Mentri Besar Datuk Saarani Mohamad, who answered questions related to health.
Mohd Akmal ignored their questions at first and continued reading his speech before Chong Zhemin (Keranji-DAP) and Howard Lee (Pasir Pinji-DAP) interrupted him.
“Are you even going to answer questions related to Covid-19 and vaccines or not,” said Lee.
Similarly, Dr Ko Chung Sen (Kepayang-DAP) asked Mohd Akmal if he had visited the government hospitals in the state, and to check whether the ICU beds were sufficient with daily cases in the state increased by over 1,000 new cases a day
State DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming (Aulong-DAP) then said Mohd Akmal was not paid to just read from the text, but he should be proactive in his tasks.
Tan Kar Hing (Simpang Pulai-PKR) then said Mohd Akmal refused to answer his questions related to Covid-19 and vaccines which he had raised much earlier.
The interruptions happened after Mohd Akmal had been speaking for 15 mins about matters pertaining to his environment portfolio as he is also the Environment and Green Technology committee chairman, to which he also responded; “All of you are not allowing me to explain, and keep interrupting me”.
He later said at a press conference that there were many questions under his portfolio which he was unable to answer due to the disruptions.
“I am in no way sabotaging the Mentri Besar as our relationship is close, we are not divided, and I continue to assist him wherever possible,” said Mohd Akmal.
“I started on environmental issues because I am the permanent chairman. As for the current pressing issue, there is the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) with a specific organisation chart,” he added.
Responding to claims that he did not go to the ground to see the situation at vaccination centres and similar places, Mohd Akmal said he visited such centres but kept a low profile when doing so.
“Maybe my weakness is that I don’t invite the media, and people are unaware of my movements,” he said.
“Also sometimes I am unable to tag along with the Mentri Besar when he visits such centres, because the event is organised on an ad-hoc basis, and I am not informed about the last-minute visits,” added Mohd Akmal.
He also said ICU equipment was sufficient and added that facilities can be upgraded if beds are insufficient.
“I also attend meetings by the CITF to be in the loop despite not holding a position in the task force,” he added.