Federal, Sabah govts on same page in Covid-19 war, says health, minister

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba (centre) speaking to Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (right) in Kota Kinabalu today. With them is Sabah Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Frankie Poon.

KOTA KINABALU: Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said it is important to put aside political differences between the federal government and the state for the sake of the nation’s health.

Adham said he was in favour of maintaining good relations with the state, particularly at this time when Covid-19 was still a threat in the country.

“It is good relations and networking that have allowed us to be successful in containing Covid-19 in Sabah,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Shafie Apdal at the latter’s office here today.

“For the sake of the nation’s safety, we must put aside any fight or other motives other than serving the country. We are always interacting with the Sabah health director and state health minister so that any information or effort can be coordinated.”

Adham’s visit to Shafie today is believed to be the first official courtesy call by a Perikatan Nasional federal minister.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin, during his working visit to the state last month, had said that he had met Shafie but there was no formal invitation to the media for coverage, nor was there any publicity over the meeting.

Shafie had many times before said he wanted to maintain good government-to-government cooperation between the state and federal administrations.

At the same time, the Semporna MP had previously accused the federal government of putting political pressure on his elected representatives to cross over to PN.

Adham said today Shafie welcomed efforts to brief him on the current health situation in the country and Sabah. The minister was also satisfied with efforts to fight the pandemic in the state.

“The chief minister also fully understands how imperative it is to contain the virus. All the input from previous briefings have been implemented at the state level. This means the Sabah CM is very proactive and is aware of the need to maintain and create more green zones.”

To a question, Adham said Shafie would be part of the ministry’s future official functions, starting with a nationwide Covid-19 awareness campaign to be launched by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on July 26.

“There is a state-level celebration and the state government is giving high-level cooperation. Yes (Shafie will be invited) because we are part of the same team in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

This is in sharp contrast to what happened today with regards to the education ministry. Shafie, who was supposed to launch the state-level Teachers’ Day celebration after an initial invitation by the state Education Department, was dropped as the guest of honour at the last minute.

This sparked speculation of political interference from Putrajaya.

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