PETALING JAYA: Netizens on Twitter have slammed Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee for his “arrogance” during an interview with health news portal CodeBlue, with one describing it as a “total PR fail”.
The first-term DAP MP, who was interviewed by CodeBlue chief editor Boo Su-Lyn in Parliament last Tuesday, was asked about public health issues such as whether he supported a strike and how long healthcare workers should wait before organising a walkout.
Sarcastically asking Boo whether he “looked like a minister” when asked how long should healthcare workers wait before solutions to prevent a walkout were implemented, Lee also refused to answer other questions on the grounds they were “emotive”.
“Rude, cocky, condescending, cringe. Overall, unprofessional,” said @rahmahghazali in response to the video clip of the interview posted on CodeBlue’s Twitter page.
“The arrogance in his tone, body language and zero empathy is glaring!” claimed @Shammy_TC.
Another Twitter user, @Idiot19861, claimed that Lee’s posture during the interview was an indicator of his attitude.
“Then it gets worse when he starts talking. If you were going to portray yourself as an arrogant and annoying know-it-all, you’ve succeeded,” said the Twitter user.
Meanwhile, @rainbows_wheee said Lee’s body language smacked of “arrogance and dishonesty”.
“(Boo) brought up the very valid question of just how long healthcare workers should wait, and your answer was basically – just wait until we get things done. I thought you were better than this. #disappointed,” said @rainbows_wheee.
A Twitter user with the handle @hxrryxo_ incase said Lee should not have agreed to the interview if he “can’t handle a question” while @FedVee advised Lee to receive media training.
“Total PR fail! Ineloquent, inarticulate, and just plain rude! His press secretary, if he has one, should be cringing,” said @FedVee.
Another user, @JackSingh01, called on DAP Youth chief Dr Kelvin Yii to teach Lee, his predecessor in the post, “not to be cocky”. He also called on Lee to apologise to Boo.
Meanwhile, Twitter user @startupizwan said he was sorry Boo had to go through the “awful interview” while another user, @zaim90, congratulated Boo for “keeping your calm”.
“This was painful to watch,” added @zaim90.
However, not all the netizens were in support of Boo.
One netizen with the Twitter handle @phoonteckman accused Boo of using the video clip to seek attention and “get hate for Howard”.
Another, @munchkkin47, said Lee was clearly annoyed by Boo’s questions, adding that she kept pressing the same matter repeatedly.
“Please post the full video, not just snippets that put others in a bad light,” said @munchkkin47.
Below are excerpts from the video clip. The transcripts were published on CodeBlue’s website.
Boo: How long would you urge healthcare workers to wait for even just one solution before launching a strike?
Lee: What was the question?
Boo: Um, so…
Lee: I don’t entertain emotive questions, because that’s an emotive question.
Boo: No, no, no. It’s – how long do you expect them…?
Lee: No, it is. I’m the recipient of the question. I feel it’s an emotive question, so I’m not going to answer that.
Boo: You don’t want to answer that?
Lee: What do you mean, how long do I want them to wait?
Boo: For solutions.
Lee: Well, there are solutions; it’s the implementation of the solutions, right?
Boo: That’s what I mean.
Lee: Exactly, you didn’t ask that.
Boo: Okay, so how long do you want them to wait for the implementation of the solutions?
Lee: I would like them to wait for the government to look into all the necessary measures to ensure all stakeholders are taken into account, into policy, before they strike.
Boo: So how long is that?
Lee: Do I look like a minister? Do I look like I’m in the executive? Do I look like I have the power to dictate?
While not in the video clip, Lee was also asked whether he would support a strike organised according to the Industrial Relations Act.
In response, he said that everyone had the right to strike but stressed he would not support an unannounced strike.
When Boo said that she wasn’t talking about an unannounced strike, Lee replied: “But I’m talking about that.”
“You’re asking me questions, right? So I talk about what I want to talk about and perhaps, in response to your questions.”
In a Twitter post, Lee said that he refused to answer questions by those “fishing for a response” by emotionalising and weaponising the future of healthcare workers, the welfare of their families, and health of their patients.
“I’ve been consistent in highlighting the problems faced by healthcare workers. The manner the question is asked is the manner I respond.”