I’m not authorised to speak on Covid-19, says Sabah minister after criticism

Sabah Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Frankie Poon says the state disaster management committee is overseeing the Covid-19 crisis.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah health minister Frankie Poon has defended his ministry amid public criticism, mostly on social media, over an apparent lack of official statements on Covid-19 developments in the state.

Poon said due to the nature of the nationwide crisis, the state disaster management committee had been activated to handle the situation in Sabah.

“The public has misunderstood and thinks the whole management comes under my ministry. As a matter of fact, it does not. This is not a normal run of the mill problem. A crisis of this magnitude requires the state disaster management committee to oversee it.

”As such, I have not made any statement as everything has been under the control of the command centre (of the committee),” he said here today.

There has been a slew of criticism on social media against Poon and the state health and people’s wellbeing ministry, with some questioning the lack of information and leadership from the ministry in updating the public about the Covid-19 situation.

Poon said that in Sabah, health director Dr Christina Rundi was the person authorised to disseminate information on behalf of the state government to the media with regards to Covid-19 matters.

He said Sabah’s first confirmed Covid-19 case was reported on March 12, and the state disaster management committee, chaired by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, was immediately activated.

He said he was a member of the committee.

”Following the announcement of the movement control order, our state secretary, as the operations director, has been giving daily directives and issuing commands on all issues pertaining to the current situation,” he said.

The official website where the public may interact with the command centre is Covid19.Sabah.digital.

On the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), Poon said medical equipment was slow in coming in and this had caused the misconception of financial issues with his ministry.

“To my understanding, the real problem lies with supply. I have personally received many viral videos and pictures of nurses resorting to self-made PPE. That is due to the supply problem.

“If anyone wishes to make donations in kind, especially of these medical supplies, to your district hospitals, I have no problem with your initiative,” he said.