KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Health Minister Adham Baba has accused the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government of failing to contain the Tabligh Covid-19 cluster, which grew to become the country's biggest source of infections.
He claimed in a video posted on Umno's Facebook account on Saturday (April 18) that without this failure, Malaysia would have only smaller clusters of Covid-19 infections to deal with.
"On (March) 10, we had a new cluster emerge which the previous government failed to contain, which is the Tabligh cluster," Datuk Seri Adham said in a conference call with Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that was uploaded on Facebook.
The Tabligh missionary group held its Feb 27 to March 1 mass gathering at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.
Dr Adham's party Umno then grabbed power with other opposition parties, with the group led by one of the former PH factions, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Bersatu's president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin became prime minister and Dr Adham was among a slew of Umno leaders who was appointed ministers.
The political crisis started from the last week of February and well into the first two weeks of March.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin was sworn into office by the Malaysian King on March 1. He in turn unveiled his new Cabinet on April 9.
Dr Adham said in the video: "There are still cases from the Tabligh cluster that have infected up to the fifth generation. If the Tabligh cluster was prevented, there would be no second wave. We may only have small clusters."
The Health Ministry has said that about 50 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in Malaysia started with the Tabligh cluster when some 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreign nationals, gathered at the Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling in the south of Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia on Saturday reported a total of 5,305 coronavirus cases and 88 fatalities.
Prominent Malaysian economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram noted in an online discussion on Covid-19 on Saturday, that Malaysia lost three weeks in the battle against the disease due to the political crisis.
He said, as quoted by Malaysiakini: "We lost because of the uncertainty, lack of leadership and more importantly, the lack of resources which we badly needed to purchase such as testing equipment.
"Whatever progress we had in early action from January were largely lost in the following weeks."
To his critics, Dr Adham - who is six weeks into his tenure as health minister - has been overshadowed by the ministry's director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who has received plaudits for his clear-minded daily news briefings about Covid-19.
Umno president Zahid told Dr Adham in the video: "Datuk must appear more often in social media and conventional media so that people will see that the health minister is in the front line together with the prime minister and other senior ministers in overcoming the Covid-19 issue."