Viability of using masks while debating

  • Letters
  • Friday, 15 May 2020

I AM writing to raise concerns regarding the health and safety of our Parliamentarians who will be sitting for the one-day meeting on May 18. I have written about my concerns over the distancing of the seats before, and I now wish to raise some questions about the health of our lawmakers if they are forced to wear the medical masks for four to eight hours. I assume that when Parliament meets again in July, MPs would still be required to wear masks.

Will it be safe for someone like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad or those above 70 years and those having respiratory issues if they make long speeches in a heated debate while wearing the face masks? I am raising this issue because of the disturbing report on the death of three teenagers in China while doing physical exercise with masks on. There is also the report of a 26-year-old jogger in Wuhan who suffered a punctured lung while jogging for 5km.

Both reports clearly state that the victims were doing strenuous activities. Will this not be a serious concern for our MPs who engage in strenuous verbal exchanges and making extended speeches in Parliament?

Many civil societies have called for a virtual Parliament to be in session and to continue for two weeks instead of the one-day physical meeting. As a citizen of this country, I personally think that the decision to have this physical meeting in Parliament, even though it is for one day only, was made in the most unintelligent and inconsiderate manner to the ageing MPs and those with serious respiratory issues.

Personally speaking, I cannot tolerate wearing the mask for more than 40 minutes and would have to go to the toilet or far away from people to take gulps of air without it. When shopping for groceries, I would not take more than 20 minutes to complete my purchase. Once I had to wait for my doctor in a hospital for three hours; I spent most of the time in the toilet breathing without the mask.

Finally, I wish to reiterate and emphasise that the physical meeting of Parliament on May 18 is an ill-conceived decision and most inconsiderate to ageing politicians and those with serious respiratory issues. Please convene Parliament in a virtual mode for the normal period of debate for the safety of all and the betterment of the nation.


Kuala Lumpur

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