Deputy minister: PM Muhyiddin approved leave so that I can be with family in NZ

John Bunyan
·2-min read
Santhara clarified that he left the country before the movement control order was reintroduced. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Santhara clarified that he left the country before the movement control order was reintroduced. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 1 — Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Santhara Kumar today confirmed that he left the country to New Zealand in December despite a ban on overseas travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Santhara said that he had obtained the necessary documents and approval from the Prime Minister's Department and the Immigration Department to travel abroad.

“I applied for leave for 55 days. The application was supported by Federal Territories Minister on December 10 and approved by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on December 18.

“My MyTravelPass application was submitted to the Immigration Department on October 30 and I received the approval on November 2 last year.

“After ensuring that each procedure was followed and all approvals were obtained, on December 23 after attending the meeting, I went abroad and underwent quarantine in New Zealand from December 24 to January 9,” he said in a statement today.

Santhara also attached the relevant documents for his leave application and traveling permission in the statement.

He explained that his purpose in leaving the country was to visit his family.

“One, my son is pursuing law studies there and I haven’t visited my nine-year-old son for almost a year and my wife who has health problems. I even missed his Holy Communion ceremony,” he said.

He also said that he had never applied for any sort of leave since his appointment as the deputy minister on March 10 last year as he was always focused on serving the public amid the pandemic.

He also clarified that he left the country before the movement control order (MCO) was reintroduced.

“I also did not travel back and forth as alleged by Batu MP P. Prabakaran in his Facebook posting stating that I had returned to attend the Federal Territory Day celebration.

“There are no issues that the Perikatan Nasional government is not being fair to the people here.

“I want to thank former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his political maturity in politely asking for explanation over the issue and not accusing me like how Prabakaran did,” he said, adding that he will discuss with his lawyers upon his return to Malaysia over the slanderous allegations made against him.

Last month, the Sarawak Report reported that the Segamat MP had flown to New Zealand on December 23 and had yet to return. It also claimed that his family was permanent residents there, while his children studied in Auckland.

Following that, Najib asked if this was true, demanding an explanation over the matter to avoid backlash from the people.

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