The Covid-19 pandemic in Sibu remains scaringly serious and the people of Sibu are the first to bear the brunt of the chaotic attempt to keep the pandemic under control here. Sibu has been left to fend for itself like an abandoned baby! Since Malaysia and even Sarawak have never had a culture of full accountability, many responsible official’s inability and inaction continue to be displayed in this pandemic incidence.

Sibu is still at the top of the Covid-19 infection list due to an unforgivable mistake by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) but the SDMC seems helpless and clueless in handling this out of control pandemic.

Yesterday 126 people have been diagnosed as positive for Covic-19 in Sibu. Sibu was originally a green zone but overnight Sibu’s safe bubble was destroyed by one person’s misjudgment. To this day, we have not seen anyone reprimanded or fined for such a grave mismanagement and misjudgment. Did the SDMC acquiesce that the responsibility lies with them and as such did not hold anyone responsible?

Sibu Central Market, known as the largest wet market in Southeast Asia, has had community leaders complaining about the weak pandemic prevention ethics of the Sibu Municipal Council as early as several months ago. SMC’s ineffective action eventually led to 47 hawkers being infected with Covid-19 and the tragedy of 3 dead to date, but there has been no accountability at all in these incidents.

With this kind of “slack” attitude towards enforcement may I ask who else will strictly follow the standard operating procedures? The authorities did not deal or has not dealt with the people concerned and has instead blamed the civilians for failing to abide by the standard operating procedures (SOP) whilst issuing fines (saman) to the public without a second thought.

How can the two coronavirus nucleic acid analysis instruments in Sibu Central Hospital cope with the huge population of 700,000 people in Central Sarawak? The medical staff are exhausted, but the authorities are not seen to assist to provide additional manpower. The relevant authorities will only pass the ball to private hospitals. It should be noted that a test for Covid-19 in a private hospital costs from RM160 to RM380. People are forced to go to private hospitals for testing. Private hospitals in Sibu that provide COVID-19 tests can test 300 to 500 people a day. Imagine that these testing fees are paid by the people for testing, and employers must conduct testing for all employees in order to open a shop. This is costly and the total costs for these tests in private hospitals is enough to buy dozens of nucleic acid testing instruments for Sibu!

The reason as to why people would rather choose to go to a private hospital for testing at their own expense is not because they are rich, but it is because the government is inefficient and has not fulfilled its due responsibilities. It takes 6-8 days for the government to report the test. This waiting period is worrisome and hard to bear. Many are still waiting for their results. Will the tested person stay at home obediently during this period of waiting and by doing so will other members of the family be exposed to the risk of coronavirus infection?

Even the Ministry of Health does not encourage people with no symptoms and no contact to be tested in hospitals. If they are to be tested, they will also need to be charged by government hospitals. Why are Sarawakians, who originally have medical assurance, have to resort to paying for medical expenses?

The government should encourage asymptomatic carriers to be tested quickly in order to break the chain of infection. Sarawak State Government and the Federal Government should immediately deploy additional staff and funds to solve the fearfully escalating pandemic in Sibu.

Sarawak was originally a green zone for the Coronavirus disease, but now it has become the top three outbreaks in Malaysia.

If Sibu pandemic continues to worsen, we just might become national “champion”. The daily reported death cases in Sarawak are all from Sibu, which has been exposed to the shortage of staff in Sibu General Hospital. The authorities still put the blame on the people, saying that the people were too slow to test which caused the death!

The heads of the SDMC and the Sarawak Health Department have not fulfilled their responsibilities. If the pandemic cannot be curbed, the persons-in-charge should relinquish their positions for the betterment of Sibu people.

In addition, Sibu's nucleic acid analysis equipment has remained at 2 units since the Movement Control Order 1.0 (MCO1.0) last year and is still only 2 units today. Sarawak’s ruling alliance of GPS has been politicizing its effort to restore Sarawak’s autonomy in recent years. Sarawak government has received the federal oil sales tax of RM3 billion and it has more than RM30 billion in reserves. Our Chief Minister Abang Johari said that “we have billions, billions of money. If there is no money, I will not announce Sarawak’s super development plans, such as the construction of the light rail light project.” Since there is so much money, where is the money now? Why can't we get the mere RM300,000 for much needed equipment and facilities? Why not show the so-called autonomy drive at this time when the pandemic is serious? The "practical effectiveness" of the SDMC needs to be improved.

It should be noted that Sibu General Hospital needs to service Kanowit, Julau, Sarikei, the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th divisions and even the entire Central Region of Sarawak are dependent on Sibu General Hospital. However, the government seems to have no foresight nor any long-term plan for crucial Sibu. There are Bintulu General Hospital and Miri General Hospital in northern Sarawak, and there are 9 hospitals in the 3 southern divisions to share the work. However, Sibu General Hospital can only fight alone.

Our government’s addition of hospitals in 3 areas are all in southern Sarawak and Northen Sarawak and nothing for Sibu and/or the central region. Sibu General Hospital has long been overwhelmed by shortage of resources and manpower. The relevant authorities continue to show no interest in Sibu’s pitiful conditions. What should the people of Sibu and the central region do next?

Obviously, the SDMC’s pandemic prevention and control plan are in a mess. The lack of strict border management in Sibu has caused the Covid-19 virus to spread to the whole of Sarawak.

What is even more ridiculous is that the Federal Education Minister announced that from March 1st to April school children are staggered to return to school to start classes. Parents are left perplexed as to why when there were no or low positive cases, students were advised to do online classes and now when the pandemic is at its peak students are requested to return to school? In such a move, the Sarawak Government has not used the so-called autonomy to decide for Sarawak.

Since there are not enough testing equipments, I urge the elected representatives of Sibu for both the Sarawak and Federal Parliaments to push for more testing equipments, personnel and resources to be diverted to Sibu to speedily pull us out of this hellhole pandemic which has taken away our livelihoods, businesses and lives. I urge that financial and food aids be given to every Sibu household without preference for any specific groups because Covid-19 is in every corner of Sibu and all are affected in one way or the other.

Jamie Tiew Yen Houng
Parti Bumi Kenyalang Treasurer General


Parti Bumi Kenyalang is a multi-racial political party in Sarawak and having an achievable mission : "IN QUEST OF INDEPENDENCE". We plan to field 82 candidates in the coming Sarawak Election therefore we need financial support from Sarawak people and supporters abroad. After 57 years in federation of Malaysia we feel that Sarawak people can work with Parti Bumi Kenyalang to stop the plundering of Sarawak's natural resources and grab of Native Customary Rights Land against the wish of indigenous people of Sarawak.

 For the better future of Sarawak, we urge Sarawakian and overseas supporters to work with us and support us in the coming election.

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