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Concerns in Malaysia Parliament as transport minister struggles to breathe

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – There was a brief health scare in the Malaysian Parliament after Transport Minister Anthony Loke seemed to have minor breathing difficulties during question time yesterday.

Loke was scheduled to answer the first question of the day from Subang Member of Parliament (MP) Wong Chen on guidelines to allow persons with disabilities (OKU) with Class A and A1 driving licences to work as e-hailing drivers.

He was also asked about government plans to change guidelines to allow OKU drivers to get a public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

But as soon as he stood up to answer the questions, Loke seemed out of breath and struggled to deliver the first few lines of his response.

Even after a short break, Loke continued to struggle to breathe as he patted his chest several times before signalling to his deputy, Hasbi Habibollah, to answer in his stead.

Upon taking over the session, Hasbi immediately told Loke to relax as he proceeded to answer the questions.

“YB (Loke), calm yourself down, and I will answer this first,” Hasbi said, addressing Loke with the Yang Berhormat (The Honourable) initials, an honorific for MPs.

Other lawmakers expressed concern, with Tampin MP Mohd Isam Mohd Isa urging Loke to go for a medical check-up immediately.

“You need to get yourself checked. It’s dangerous (for your health),” he said.

Fortunately, Loke managed to recover and continued to answer supplementary questions posed by MPs.

He said the ministry would continue to advocate for OKU driving licence holders to join the e-hailing industry on a case-by-case basis.

“So long as they obtain medical approval and proof that their disabilities would not endanger themselves, other drivers or their passengers, we will give them an exemption to obtain a (PSV or e-hailing) licence,” he said.

He added that his ministry was looking at improving the application process for eligible OKU drivers to obtain such licences.

Anthony Loke seemed out of breath and struggled to deliver the first few lines of his response. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES