KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -Malaysia’s finance ministry said on Wednesday it had terminated the services of the chairman of the public transport operator amid an outcry over his response to a train accident in which more than 200 people were injured.
On Monday, 47 commuters were severely hurt and 166 sustained minor injuries when two light rail metro trains collided head-on in an underground tunnel near the centre of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, chairman of Prasarana Malaysia, appeared to joke about the collision in response to a question from a reporter on the situation in the tunnel.
“Normal… only the two cars are together. They kissed each other,” Tajuddin said laughing during the televised news conference.
Malaysian social media users lambasted Tajuddin’s comments as insensitive, with thousands signing an online petition calling for him to be sacked.
In a letter dated Wednesday and circulated on social media, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said Tajuddin’s services would be terminated, effective immediately.
The letter did not specify the reason.
A ministry spokeswoman confirmed to media that the letter was authentic. Tajuddin did not respond to calls from Reuters seeking comment.
Tajuddin, who is also a government lawmaker, was appointed as Prasarana chairman in May last year.
Authorities have pledged to carry out a thorough investigation into the train collision, the first major accident in the metro system’s 23 years of operation.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Nick Macfie)