Include Rafidah, Jomo in National Recovery Council, says DAPemail sharing button

PETALING JAYA: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has called for former minister Rafidah Aziz and prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram to be also appointed to the government’s National Recovery Council (MPN).

In a statement, Lim claimed that some of the experts roped in by the government so far did not qualify to be on the council as they had “condoned or maintained a loud silence” on the 1MDB scandal.

“Other subject matter experts that should have been considered for the MPN are prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram, who places emphasis on the poor and socially disadvantaged.

“Famous cardiothoracic surgeon Yahya Awang can offer a different medical perspective on the way out of the current health crisis.

“Malaysia’s ‘Iron Lady’ Rafidah Aziz should also be chosen as one who will not fear to speak the truth.”

Lim also took a jab at international trade and industry minister Azmin Ali after former Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Azman Mokhtar was included in the council, pointing out that Azmin had been a strong critic of Azman previously.

“Azmin revealed in Parliament in 2018 that Khazanah lost US$20 million in a lingerie retail investment in India and a RM3 billon investment via private equity to take over a bank which went bust.

“If Azman is now appointed, is this not a humiliating slap in the face for Azmin?”

Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz yesterday said Pakatan Harapan, Warisan and Pejuang had been invited to send representatives to be part of the council. Representatives of the Sabah and Sarawak state governments would also be invited.

He said a number of experts from various industries have voiced their willingness to lend their expertise and experience, including former minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop, AirAsia co-founder Tony Fernandes and infectious diseases expert Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

Other experts include SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang, Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam from the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences, child rights activist Hartini Zainudin, former education director-general Habibah Abdul Rahim, and Star Media group adviser Wong Chun Wai.

Record 15,902 Covid-19 cases, over 7,000 in Selangor

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has reported 15,902 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

In a Facebook post, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the total number of infections now stands at 996,393.

This was followed by Kuala Lumpur (2,406), Kedah (867), Johor (804), Sabah (712), Melaka (631), Negeri Sembilan (625), Penang (505), Kelantan (502), Perak (469), Pahang (406), Terengganu (267), Sarawak (261), Putrajaya (59), Labuan (30) and Perlis (7). FMT

16 hours daily in full PPE to manage the Covid-19 deadwhatsapp sharing button

Volunteers from the Amal Valley Organization carrying out the sombre task of burying those who died from Covid-19.

PETALING JAYA: Toiling under the hot sun for long hours every day while decked in full personal protective equipment (PPE) — this is among the challenges volunteers from Amal Valley Organization (AVO) endure in managing the remains of Muslims who have lost their lives to Covid-19.

On top of the sombre task, they have to witness heartbreaking scenes of family members weeping over the departure of their loved ones.

The volunteers also face the wrath of residents staying near graveyards who refuse to allow the remains to be buried so close to where they live, out of fear of contracting the virus.

An Amal Valley Organization volunteer gets his suit sanitised after a burial.

Despite all these challenges and the increasing rate of daily deaths from Covid-19, the NGO continues to offer its services for free.

The cost of managing the burial for each body can go up to RM3,000, depending on the logistics and location of the burial ground.

AVO president Dr Azfar Hussin told FMT that some family members would offer payment, but based on what they could afford.

Azfar, who owns the As-Salam chain of clinics in Selangor, said they started the initiative over a year ago, managing the burial for around four to eight Covid-19 deaths a day.

The number has since increased tremendously.

“Now, it’s an average of 20 a day. The highest we’ve had was 57 in one day. At that time, we had to work from 8am to midnight.

“Imagine how exhausted we were, especially since we had to don the protective gear for our safety at all times.

“But our tiredness was worth it as we managed to fulfil the ‘fardu kifayah’ as well as the trust of our donors. What’s most important is that the grief of the family was also alleviated,” Azfar said.

Amal Valley Organization volunteers once had to oversee the burial of 57 bodies in a day, working hard from morning until midnight.

Focused on the Klang Valley, most of AVO’s work involves handling dead patients from Hospital Ampang, one of the designated Covid-19 hospitals in the country.

The NGO has 11 full-time volunteers, whose work is divided into managing the remains at the mortuary and the burial grounds, as well as taking care of the logistics of the burial.

“All have been trained for at least six hours before they are allowed to manage any burial. If we don’t have enough members, we request help from other NGOs.

“Right now, we use six vehicles, four of which are our own. The other two were lent to us by the Selangor Islamic department and a surau.

“However, the number of vehicles is insufficient now due to the increase in deaths,” he said.

Azfar is thankful that none of his volunteers have contracted Covid-19 so far while in the field, attributing this to their strict compliance with the set SOPs.

Azfar, who was a volunteer doctor at a vaccination centre in Bukit Jalil, also said his wife understood why he was doing this, and he is thankful that he is still able to carry out his tasks despite the fatigue associated with his role.

Members of the public who are interested in contributing to AVO may drop a message at FMT’s Helpline at 019 3899839.  FMT