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Adham Baba

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Adham Baba
أدهم بابا
Adham in 2022
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation
In office
30 August 2021 – 19 November 2022
Prime MinisterIsmail Sabri Yaakob
DeputyAhmad Amzad Hashim
Preceded byKhairy Jamaluddin
Succeeded byChang Lih Kang
(Minister of Science and Technology)
Minister of Health
In office
10 March 2020 – 16 August 2021
Prime MinisterMuhyiddin Yassin
DeputyNoor Azmi Ghazali
Aaron Ago Dagang
Director-GeneralNoor Hisham Abdullah
Preceded byDzulkefly Ahmad
Succeeded byKhairy Jamaluddin
Parliamentary Secretary,
Ministry of Higher Education
In office
27 March 2004 – 18 March 2008
Mizan Zainal Abidin
Prime MinisterAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
MinisterShafie Salleh
Mustapa Mohamed
Preceded byMahadzir Mohd Khir
(Parliamentary Secretary in Ministry of Education)
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Tenggara
In office
9 May 2018 – 19 November 2022
Preceded byHalimah Mohd Sadique
Succeeded byManndzri Nasib
Majority5,933 (2018)
In office
21 March 2004 – 8 March 2008
Preceded byHishamuddin Hussein
Succeeded byHalimah Mohd Sadique
Majority17,088 (2004)
Member of the Johor State Legislative Assembly
for Pasir Raja
In office
8 March 2008 – 9 May 2018
Preceded byHalimah Mohd Sadique
Succeeded byRashidah Ismail
Majority6,792 (2008)
6,666 (2013)
Faction represented in Dewan Rakyat
2004–2008Barisan Nasional
2018–2022Barisan Nasional
Faction represented in Johor State Legislative Assembly
2008–2018Barisan Nasional
Personal details
Adham bin Baba

(1962-10-06) 6 October 1962 (age 61)
Batu Pahat, Johor, Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)
Political partyUnited Malays National Organisation (UMNO)
Other political
Barisan Nasional (BN)
Taibah Tabrani
(died 2007)

(m. 2010)
Alma materUniversity of Malaya (MBBS}

Dato' Sri Dr. Adham bin Baba (Jawi: أدهم بن بابا; born 6 October 1962) is a Malaysian doctor and a politician who served as Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation from 2021 to 2022. Previously, he served as Minister of Health from 2020 to 2021 and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tenggara from 2004 to 2008 and again from 2018 to 2022, having previously been Member of the Johor State Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Parit Raja from 2008 to 2018.

Before being appointed to ministerial positions, Adham served as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education from 2004 to 2008. He is a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a component party of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.[1]

Early life[edit]

Adham graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of Malaya in 1987. Upon graduation, he served as a medical officer in the Ministry of Health from 1988 to 1990. In the same year, Adham began his first career as a medical doctor in the private sector in 1990 and has so to the present. He has a private clinic called Klinik Adham Sdn Bhd with 18 branches.[2]

He also held several senior positions in government-related companies including the University of Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) Pro-Chancellor from 2013 to 2018.[2] In addition, he had been the Chairman of UniKL Medical Services Sdn Bhd. from 2010 to 2015.[2]

Political career[edit]

He first became involved in politics in 1991 with the post of UMNO Committee Member for Senai Division. After that, he began to hold an important portfolio in the ministry. Among them, Special Education Officer in the Ministry of Youth and Sports from 2000 to 2004.

In 2004, he was elected as Member of Parliament for Tenggara. He was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education until 2008.

In 2008, he was elected as the State Assembly Member for Pasir Raja. He was the assemblyman of the constituency until 2018.

He contested for the Tenggara parliamentary seat in the 14th general election and won.[2]

On 9 March 2020, he was appointed as the Minister of Health by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. The appointment is made as the country faces COVID-19 disease.[1]

Controversies and issues[edit]

Incorrect demonstration of surgical mask use[edit]

On 13 March 2020, Adham demonstrated the steps to how to wear a surgical mask with head ties during a televised press conference.[3] However, he had shown an incorrect demonstration of surgical mask usage, as he had neglected to fasten the head ties of the surgical mask appropriately. He was subsequently criticized for the misleading demonstration during the televised press conference as he was the appointed Minister of Health.[4][5]

Drinking warm water as a COVID-19 prevention[edit]

On 19 March 2020, Adham advised the public that drinking warm water will help prevent COVID-19 as the virus will be flushed down to the stomach and the digestive acids will kill any virus, while being on a televised interview on RTM's Bicara Naratif programme. His remarks later went viral on social media, with many netizens questioning his claim.

Dr Nur Amalina Che Bakri had criticised Adham saying that there was no scientific evidence that the stomach's acid can kill the virus.[6][7] The World Health Organization (WHO) and former deputy health minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye also refuted the claim, noting that while staying hydrated by drinking water is important for overall health, it does not prevent the Coronavirus infection,[8] whereas Boon Chye added that "warm water that's hot enough to kill the virus will kill the patient first".[9]

Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah later refuted Adham's statement, commenting that the Health Ministry's approach for patient treatment and management is always based on scientific evidence.[10]

Political post on Ministry of Health Facebook page[edit]

On 15 April 2020, the official Facebook page of the Malaysian Ministry of Health shared a post from Facebook page "Friends of Adham Baba"[11] which lauded the contributions of Adham in the COVID-19 pandemic, while claiming that the previous administration was being ineffective at dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.[12][13]

The post was removed after garnering criticism from netizens, with many saying that the previous administration was not, by any chance involved in the handling of the pandemic in early 2020, and that the ministry should have remained neutral and apolitical.[14]

"WHO conference call with 500 countries" statement[edit]

On 18 April 2020, Adham erroneously claimed that he participated in a World Health Organization (WHO) video-conferencing session with 'over 500 countries' during a Facebook live session with UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Adham had also claimed that he was confident that his accomplishments as the Health Minister was recognised globally.[15] Netizens on Twitter took notice and mocked Dr. Adham Baba for the "500 countries" claim.[16]

The following day, he acknowledged that he misspoke about the “500 countries” when he meant to say that the videoconference had 500 participants, from 50 countries.[17] This was later corroborated by evidence from the official Facebook page of the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH)[18] which showed on 27 March, that the WHO videoconference in question almost reached 500 participants (498[19] participants shown in photo evidence of the Zoom videoconference organised by the WHO), one of which was the Crisis Preparedness & Response Centre (CPRC) of the MOH.[20]

Criticism by the predecessor[edit]

Dzulkefly Ahmad urged his successor Dr Adham Baba and the latter's two deputies to either take charge of the ministry's decision making or resign. He said many were confused by Noor Hisham's emphasis that he was just a 'messenger' and did not provide the scientific explanation behind the decision. He claimed that Malaysia had lost its political leadership. The country was running "almost automatically" since Muhyiddin's coalition overthrew the Pakatan Harapan administration in 2020. He stressed that Adham, along with his deputies Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali and Aaron Ago Dagang, must work as a team with the bureaucrats and technocrats of the Ministry of Health. "You must see, do not be afraid to be criticized. And do not just try to be praised," he said. Dr Dzulkefly said that it was the government's choice to take many of the recommendations put forward by a group of experts in an open letter addressed to Muhyiddin. The proposal includes instructing COVID-19 patients with few or no symptoms to self-quarantine at home instead of having them admitted to a hospital. "We do not actually need to use emergency regulations to 'nationalize' facilities (private hospitals) to get access to them. The Ministry of Health can load the burden on our public hospitals," he said.[21]

Spanish Fly gaffe[edit]

In a moment of Freudian slip on 12 July 2021, Dr Adham Baba mistakenly utters "Spanish fly" two times in reference to the Spanish Flu pandemic. In his statement, the "Spanish Fly" resulted in 1 million deaths from the years 1919 and 1916 but the COVID-19 pandemic was worse as it has resulted in 2.8 million deaths worldwide. Realising his error, he corrects "Spanish Fly" to "Spanish Virus".[22] The correct estimated deaths from the 1918 pandemic was 20 - 50 million.

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said it is unusual for a trained doctor not to know the difference between the dreaded Spanish Flu and a Spanish fly.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Adham was previously married to Taibah Tabrani and has 5 children, of which, 2 are adopted. On 23 April 2007, Adham's wife was suffering from asthma and fainted at her home after suffering from a respiratory problem. She was later rushed to the hospital but she died. At the time, Adham was in Auckland, New Zealand on official duty, but cut his trip short and rushed back home upon hearing the sorrowful news.[24]

Election results[edit]

Johor State Legislative Assembly[25]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2008 N35 Pasir Raja Adham Baba (UMNO) 9,701 76.93% Menhad Awab (PAS) 2,909 23.07% 12,819 6,792 79.23%
2013 Adham Baba (UMNO) 12,920 67.38% Mohd Nazari Mokhtar (PAS) 6,254 32.68% 19,539 6,666 87.50%
Parliament of Malaysia[26][27][28][29]
Year Constituency Candidate Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2004 P155 Tenggara, Johor Adham Baba (UMNO) 19,706 88.27% Salleh Farmin (PAS) 2,618 11.73% 23,056 17,088 77.32%
2018 Adham Baba (UMNO) 20,142 54.39% Norjepri Mohamed Jelani (PPBM) 14,209 38.37% 37,818 5,933 84.51%
Yuhanita Yunan (PAS) 2,683 7.24%



  1. ^ a b "Who is Dr Adham Baba, the health minister who will lead fight against Covid-19?". Malay Mail. 9 March 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dr Adham Baba terajui Kementerian Kesihatan". Astro Awani. 2 April 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  3. ^ Yusoff, Rashid [@RashidYusoff11] (12 March 2020). "Gelagat Riang Ria Menteri Kesihatan Baru" (Tweet) (in Indonesian). Retrieved 21 April 2020 – via Twitter.
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  5. ^ "Ini gelagat Menteri Kesihatan ketika krisis wabak COVID-19 yang buatkan rakyat keliru". OrangKata.my. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Health Minister's 'warm water method' to kill coronavirus questioned". The Star.
  7. ^ "Dr Amalina: Tiada bukti petua minum air elak Covid-19". malaysiakini.
  8. ^ "Health Minister Claims Warm Water Can Kill Coronavirus Because It "Doesn't Like Heat"". Says.
  9. ^ "Trying to stop Covid-19 with warm water would kill patient first: Lee Boon Chye". The Sun Daily.
  10. ^ "Health DG appears to disagree with Health Minister on Warm Water claim". The Rakyat Post.
  11. ^ "Friends Of Dr Adham Baba". Facebook. Archived from the original on 20 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Health Ministry's political post on Facebook page irks netizens". Edgeprop.my. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Tweet with a screenshot of the political post in question". Archived from the original on 13 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Political post on Health Ministry's Facebook page causes a stir". Malaysiakini. 14 April 2020. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Health minister mocked over '500 countries' claim". The Malaysian Insight.
  16. ^ "Twitterjaya abuzz over health minister's '500 countries' remark". Malaysiakini. 19 April 2020. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  17. ^ Ar, Zurairi. "'500 participants, not countries': Dr Adham Baba explains slip of tongue in Covid-19 video call | Malay Mail". www.malaymail.com. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia". Retrieved 19 April 2020 – via Facebook.
  19. ^ "Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia". Retrieved 19 April 2020 – via Facebook.
  20. ^ "Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia". Retrieved 19 April 2020 – via Facebook.
  21. ^ "'Dr Adham, timbalan ambil tanggungjawab keputusan KKM atau letak jawatan'". Malaysiakini (in Malay). 29 January 2021. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  22. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  23. ^ Times, New Straits (15 July 2021). "'I have neither flu nor fly', Dr M quips". NST Online. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
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  26. ^ "my undi : Kawasan & Calon-Calon PRU13 : Keputusan PRU13 (Archived copy)". www.myundi.com.my. Archived from the original on 31 March 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
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  28. ^ "Semakan Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum ke - 14" (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Archived from the original on 12 May 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018. Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  29. ^ "The Star Online GE14". The Star. Retrieved 24 May 2018. Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  30. ^ "PM's wife tops Malacca list". The Star Online. 11 October 2003. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  31. ^ "Rosmah heads list of Pahang's 644 honour recipients". The Malay Mail. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
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