Leave’s over, so where’s Santhara?
Datuk Seri Edmund Santhara Kumar’s 55-day leave ended last Saturday, but the deputy Federal Territories minister has yet to resume his official duties.
(The Vibes) – This was confirmed by a ministry office staffer, who said the Segamat MP did not show up for work yesterday and today.
It has been exactly three months since Santhara left the country to visit his family in New Zealand on December 23 last year.
His leave, which started on December 28, ended on March 20. Yesterday should have been his first day back at work after his controversial and lengthy leave.
“No, he was not in the office on both days. I don’t have any information on his whereabouts,” the officer told The Vibes today.
Asked if she has any knowledge on when Santhara will return, the staffer said: “Sorry, I am not able to give that information. All I can say is, he is not in the office, and I’m not privy to his current location.”
She added that there are no ministry programmes involving Santhara slotted for the coming weeks.
Attempts to contact his constituency’s office have been unsuccessful, while Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa has yet to reply to queries on the matter.
An email was sent to the lawmaker this morning seeking clarification, but there was no response at the time of writing.
The issue surrounding Santhara’s whereabouts first surfaced last month, after it was pointed out by whistle-blower site Sarawak Report that the deputy minister was not in Malaysia, having left for New Zealand to meet his family in December.
In a March 1 statement, Santhara said he was on a 55-day leave, and his application was approved by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Annuar on December 18.
He said he adhered to all immigration regulations for the trip, and that he was in New Zealand to visit his sick wife and their children, who are studying there.
Since the issue came to light, several quarters have questioned if Santhara has permanent residency in New Zealand, considering his extended stay.
The Vibes previously reported that Santhara and his wife had applied for PR status in the Pacific country about a decade ago, but “a change in circumstances” led them to abandon their intentions.
Questions were also raised as to whether he jumped the queue and sought an emergency allocation in New Zealand’s limited coronavirus quarantine scheme, although this has been denied by its minister for Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins.
Last week, Federal Territories PKR Youth chief P. Prabakaran submitted a memorandum to the New Zealand high commission here, urging Wellington to extradite Santhara if he is found to have broken laws there.