PETALING JAYA: Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has accused a Penang city councillor of trying to mislead the people over the issue of medical tourism flights entering the island.
Referring to Wong Yuee Harng’s allegation that the transport ministry had unilaterally allowed the chartered flight to enter the country, Wee said the flight had met all regulations set by the National Security Council (NSC).
“The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and the Immigration Department had approved the arrival of the chartered flight from Indonesia after it had fulfilled the SOP,” he said in a statement today.
He said the SOP included isolation and tests that followed international health and medical standards even before entering Malaysia.
Wee chided the state government for not opposing such flights beforehand.
“If the state was opposed to such flights, then they should have submitted a proposal for the NSC to consider and make a final decision, just like how Sarawak had done before.
“CAAM did not receive any notice of objection from the Penang government on the chartered flight, nor did it receive any instruction from the National Security Council to disallow chartered medical flights from entering Penang,” the MCA president said.
He also took aim at two Penang exco members who voiced their opposition to the chartered medical flight into the island.
“It seems like an afterthought by Penang exco members Yeoh Soon Hin and Dr Norlela Ariffin. Both said the state government was against the flight, with the latter saying she had made such a statement at the state exco meeting and the state security special council meeting.
“Both meetings were chaired by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and it was after he was self praising the state’s achievements in medical tourism that the state government had drawn flak from Penangites.
“As a result, he denied having any knowledge of the medical chartered flight,” Wee said.
He asked if the state government was even aware of the whole issue.
“Their lack of objection to the relevant departments beforehand begs the question if all this is a political show.”
On Monday, the Penang government said it had barred entry by overseas visitors seeking medical treatment until it finalised new health and safety procedures in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
In a statement, Chow said three Indonesian patients had arrived by a special flight last Friday to be treated at private hospitals – two victims of cancer and one in need of immediate treatment.
He said the state government was not informed of the “sudden” arrival of the patients.
Chow said the ban would stay until the health ministry finalised procedures to deal with healthcare tourism.