Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi found it strange that the government could approve 55 days of leave for Deputy Federal Territories Minister Edmund Santhara at a time when frontliners battling the Covid-19 pandemic struggle to even get a few days off.
"It is pitiful that frontliners apply for leave but they are not approved. At most, they would apply for two to three days to visit their children or spouse in another district," he said in a Facebook statement.
Puad noted that Santhara's reasoning was so that he could be with his family and be a responsible father but pointed out that other Malaysians want the same too.
"What about Malaysians who are prevented from travelling across states and districts to visit their family, are they considered irresponsible parents?" he said.
The country went into a movement control order (MCO) on Jan 13 to curb the spread of Covid-19, which saw a ban on interdistrict and interstate travel.
At present, the government allows spouses living apart to travel across districts or states but they must seek police permission.
However, visiting other family members in another district or state is only allowed under special circumstances, such as a medical emergency.
Puad said an MP is expected to serve his or her constituency, particularly during the pandemic and floods.
He pointed out that during the 2014 floods, the government had frozen the leave of all ministers and deputy ministers.
Santhara is the MP for Segamat. He was appointed as the deputy federal territories minister on March 10 last year.
"Is the position of deputy federal territories minister unimportant? It appears the practice of dua darjat (double standard) is becoming widespread," he said.
The spotlight fell on Santhara after Sarawak Report highlighted that he had been out of sight since December last year.
Following the report, Santhara broke his silence and confirmed that he had been in New Zealand to spend time with his family where they reside. He also claimed his wife had health problems.
He threatened legal action over defamatory allegations made against him and maintained that he left the country in accordance with government procedures.
Santhara added that his long leave was approved by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Meanwhile, Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said Muhyiddin should replace Santhara as the deputy minister.
"It would be appropriate for the prime minister to fulfil his (Santhara) desire (to be with his family) by replacing him with another MP," he said on Facebook.