If deputy minister wants to be in NZ, let him but find another in Malaysia to work, PKR MP tells PM

Yiswaree Palansamy
·2-min read
Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad speaks during a press conference in Parliament July 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad speaks during a press conference in Parliament July 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should find a replacement for Datuk Seri Edmund Santhara Kumar if the deputy Federal Territories minister can’t be in Malaysia to perform his duties, Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad suggested today.

The PKR lawmaker noted that Edmund had recently admitted that he was not in the country but claimed he had applied and was allowed to go on a 55-day holiday in New Zealand, where his immediate family is living.

“Nevertheless, all parties ought to respect the deputy minister’s wish to spend time with his family,” Nik Nazmi said in a sarcasm-laden statement on his social media accounts.

He added that the prime minister whom Edmund said had approved his request for leave from work should enable the Segamat MP to remain in New Zealand as well.

“As such, the prime minister should continue to facilitate him, in this case by replacing him with another MP,” Nik Nazmi added.

He claimed Edmund to be among the richest MPs in Malaysia, with assets amounting to RM132 million based on the latter’s 2019 public asset declaration published by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission at that time.

Nik Nazmi also sarcastically congratulated Edmund for being able to take a 55-day holiday from work and fly to New Zealand when ordinary Malaysians in the country are losing their livelihoods and businesses.

“At the same time, the rakyat has to endure a 10-day quarantine while ministers can be exempted for a three-day quarantine,” he added.

The Opposition MP also took a jab at Muhyiddin who yesterday marked his one-year anniversary as prime minister, with ordinary Malaysians faced with RM10,000 fines for violating Covid-19 rules (under an amended law that takes effect from March 11) while ministers follow a different set of rules, including a shorter quarantine period if they travel abroad.

After news reports emerged that he was currently abroad, Edmund issued a statement yesterday confirming that he has been in New Zealand since last December.

However, he insisted that his leave was approved by the Prime Minister’s Department and that his exit from the country followed the procedures set out by the Immigration Department.

Edmund said he was in New Zealand to visit his wife and son, justifying the break by saying he has not taken any leave since his appointment in March 2020.

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