PETALING JAYA: Medical experts and political observers want Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (pix) to issue a public apology to Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for “unsavoury remarks” made against him.
Otherwise, they said, he should be suspended temporarily from the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.
Tiong came under fire for accusing Noor Hisham of failing to offer moral support to medical frontliners in the Covid-19 war by not visiting Sabah.
While debating Budget 2021, he also asked if Noor Hisham “is afraid to die” and told the man behind the fight against the virus that there is “no need to seek publicity every day”.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said it was “inappropriate” of Tiong to make such remarks.
“MMA believes the Health Ministry has done well to bring the Covid-19 situation under control, and much credit for this must be given to Noor Hisham,” he told theSun yesterday.
Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies at the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, said that by raising the issue of death, Tiong was “hitting below the belt”.
“His comments are a reflection of his party and he should be pulled up for the language used. He has to issue a public apology. Otherwise, it could set a precedent for others to do the same and get away with it.”
The Progressive Democratic Party president was also wrong in his claims that Noor Hisham did not visit Sabah, as the latter later clarified that he had visited the state’s hospitals in August.
Tiong’s remarks also drew the ire of other MPs, leading to a war of words in the House, which eventually resulted in the expulsion of R.S.N. Rayer (PH-Jelutong) on Wednesday and Lim Lip Eng (PH-Kepong) yesterday.
In the face of such incidents, Ramon said the speaker must exert his authority to ensure decorum, decency and dignity in parliamentary debates.
Senior fellow at the National Council of Professors Dr Jeniri Amir said Tiong’s remarks will have negative implications for the work Noor Hisham and the frontliners have done so far. “He is the most credible person to inform the public on daily cases. He doesn’t need the publicity.”
Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang called Tiong’s attacks “cowardly, malicious and hiding behind a gross abuse of parliamentary privilege”.