Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Press statement by Syerleena Abdul Rashid – ADUN Seri Delima / DAP Penang Assistant Publicity Secretary / DAP Wanita National Executive Member – Georgetown, Penang – 8th October 2021:

The recent accusation made by Penang State Government Health EXCO, Dr Norlela Ariffin was absolutely uncalled for and came as a surprise. Reports have quoted her making statements such as “these bullies who like to witch-hunt women are sickening” (nak muntah dengan these bullies (pembuli ini) yang suka witch hunt (menyalahkan) wanita) and given someone of her stature, it is most unfortunate because simply does not exhibit the exemplary leader we need in such trying times.

The pandemic has put a massive strain on everyone – from government agencies, to private sectors and beyond. Globally, we have seen how healthcare systems are immensely overwhelmed and more so, our medical front liners, who have been battling this ‘invisible enemy’ since day one. Needless to say, the humanitarian toll has devastated many families – separated from travel restrictions, border closures and grieving from loss of loved ones.

What we have experienced over the past year has now become one of our generation’s most life changing crisis and the socio-economic impact will truly be felt decades on.

Penang hit a critical point and for a much smaller state compared to hard hit locations like Selangor or even Kuala Lumpur, we are faced with challenges that have tested our resilience and emotional strengths. The sheer scale of devastation and economic recession resulted in an unimaginable sense of uncertainty that made many of us feel helpless and disoriented. Hence, during crisis driven by unfamiliarity, leaders and those in high decision making positions ought to respond with clear headed judgements void of any emotional disturbances.

It was most regrettable that Dr Norlela was unable to set aside personal differences or feelings to helm us back to some level of familiarity and stability we missed dearly during pre-Covid19 days. As a policy maker at the highest state level, it would have been more fitting to carry on with her duties but also understand the value of teamwork. In times of crisis, everyone should work together to formulate ways to alleviate the hardest hit communities and maintaining order even when the pandemic has passed. Top-down responses disrupt much needed stability and the best ways forward would have been embracing best practices from other leaders for the common goal: to empower everyone by setting clear priorities and preserving transparency, so those involved in relief efforts (be it socially or politically) can better mobilise and be as efficient as we can with our limited resources. After all, sharing information, consolidating decision making authority and providing clear directives are elements that exhibit the comradery Pakatan Harapan was founded on.

There is a saying, “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” – Dr Norlela should not have questioned the faculties of differing perspective or strengths from others important decision makers. Questioning what other leaders can bring to the table or second guessing the intentions of healthy discourse or criticism by resorting to petty name calling is utterly demoralising. Leaders must also provide the psychological safety needed to rebuild public confidence and empower communities through healthy debates even in forms of constructive criticism. Calling coalition partners or in this case, fellow statesmen and stateswomen “bullies” is rather immature and unbecoming of a leader. They say one must grow a thick skin in politics and more so, to lead, therefore, it is most timely for her to embody that axiom.