Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Rina Harun and her deputy Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff should resign for failing to mitigate the high risk of Covid-19 for senior citizens in elderly care homes, said PKR Women communications director Loh Ker Chean.
“With the role of minister and deputy minister, who should be taking care of the welfare of vulnerable groups? Do they feel they have done their best to slow down the spread of Covid-19 among senior citizens, especially those in care homes, in the past year of the pandemic?
“What is clear was Rina’s ‘role’ as a magazine model and now as an actress in a Hari Raya video clip. The deputy minister, on the other hand, is silent,” Loh said in a statement today.
She was likely referring to Rina’s (above) private photoshoot for baju kurung fashion hosted in her minister's office in February, which received a lot of criticism at the time.
Rina also acted as a FoodPanda delivery rider for a Hari Raya video earlier this week, where she was seen delivering Raya goodies to a couple in a village.
Loh said Rina should instead use her time to answer questions about what the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry has done to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 among senior citizens.
She questioned whether Rina has looked into the mental wellbeing of senior citizens, especially those in care homes, since the pandemic started, or whether Rina ensured all employees of elderly care homes are supplied with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Has Rina requested the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) to prioritise elderly care institutions and to make it easier for medical teams to visit the care homes to give vaccine shots?
“Has Rina activated the corporate communications unit in the ministry or asked for the cooperation of the Information Department or the Community Communication Department (J-Kom) who are in charge of two-way communication in order to strategically increase awareness of vaccine registration to senior citizens?
“Has Rina requested JKJAV to ensure vaccine appointment notifications will be done through phone calls, as many senior citizens are not proficient with using text messaging and checking their MySejahtera app?” Loh asked.
She pointed out that Science, Technology, and Innovation Deputy Minister Ahmad Amzad Hashim said in February that almost 70 percent of Covid-related deaths were those above 60 years old.
Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said in early March that the death rate among elderly care home residents was relatively high at 1.48 percent compared to the national death rate which was 0.38 percent.
Loh said depression and anxiety could be increasing among senior citizens living in elderly care homes due to isolation and long-term physical distancing due to the pandemic.
There is also a lack of PPEs for caretakers in elderly care homes, which is one of the main reasons senior citizens are exposed to infection, as some of the residents require a lot of care and supervision, she added.
“In the eyes of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) cabinet, are the numbers of senior citizen deaths due to Covid-19 just a mathematics question without lives attached to it?
“Rina and Siti Zailah, please apologise to the family members of senior citizens who passed away due to Covid-19 immediately and then step down,” Loh urged.