KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) today accused Umno politician Datuk Puad Zarkashi of slander and promised legal action if he does not apologise for his remarks regarding the latest Covid-19 exemption for Cabinet members.
Puad, a former MP, had questioned if the new rule reducing the 10-day quarantine period for all Malaysian returnees from overseas to just three days for ministers in self-isolation was made allegedly to spare Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin after his recent official trip to Jakarta.
“The Prime Minister’s Office vehemently denies the slander made by Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi, that apparently the three-day quarantine order for ministers who go on official trips overseas was gazetted by the government because the prime minister refused to be quarantined upon returning from his official trip to Indonesia,” it said in a statement this evening.
The PMO clarified that Muhyiddin was issued a home surveillance order and the requisite quarantine wrist tag upon his return on February 5.
“He is now undergoing quarantine at home. The slander by Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi is malicious and is to sully the good name of the prime minister.
“Legal action will be initiated against him, should he fail to tender a public apology,” the PMO said.
Puad had raised the issue on his Facebook page yesterday, alleging a “commotion” at the the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang Jaya, Selangor when a Health Ministry official was waiting to process Muhyiddin's entourage for home quarantine upon return from Jakarta.
“That's the reason the minister issued a new order via a federal gazette. Quarantine is only for three days. Was the Health D-G's order under Act 342 overruled?” Puad asked, also questioning if the senior government officials were subject to different rules under the current movement control order (MCO).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba had announced that Cabinet members returning from official visits abroad are exempt from Section 15 the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
Section 15 of Act 342 pertains to observation or surveillance of contacts and that an authorised officer may order any contact to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or to undergo surveillance until he may be discharged without danger to the public.
Before the amendment, all Malaysian returnees must undergo a 10-day mandatory quarantine at home even if they test negative for Covid-19 upon arrival.
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