Citing rule of law, Malaysian Bar urges AGC to review ‘NFA’ against minister Khairuddin for breaching Covid-19 quarantine

Keertan Ayamany
·3-min read
The Malaysian Bar president called on the MOH to explain why the mandatory Form 14B for plantation industries and commodities minister to undergo Covid-19 quarantine was not issued, and he was allowed to move freely in public. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The Malaysian Bar president called on the MOH to explain why the mandatory Form 14B for plantation industries and commodities minister to undergo Covid-19 quarantine was not issued, and he was allowed to move freely in public. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — The Malaysian Bar has today urged the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to reconsider the “no further action” (NFA) decision against minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for breaching the 14-day Covid-19 quarantine.

Its president Salim Bashir said Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”, and it is a “moral obligation” for a Cabinet member to self-quarantine.

“In times of great uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, leaders of a country should set a good example to its citizens. This is especially true if a minister is aware that a disease such as Covid-19 is life-threatening and highly transmissible, and he/she has a moral obligation to self-quarantine,” Salim said in a statement.

He also pointed out that Section 269 of the Penal Code stipulates that “whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life”, commits an offence.

“Perhaps the Attorney General could exercise his constitutional prerogative to reconsider his earlier decision based on the above-mentioned offence provided under the Penal Code,” he said.

In addition, Salim also called on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to explain why the mandatory Form 14B for plantation industries and commodities minister to undergo Covid-19 quarantine was not issued, and he was allowed to move freely in public.

“If Minister Khairuddin is in fact exempted from a Quarantine Order, the authorities must be able to demonstrate what this exemption is, the absence of which would create a dangerous precedent that is arbitrary in nature.

“This is particularly pertinent since members of the general public are required to adhere strictly to standard operating procedures as well as Quarantine Orders during the pandemic,” he said.

Khairuddin, the Kuala Nerus MP for PAS, has since attracted widespread criticism for failing to comply with the government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for all Malaysians who had returned from abroad.

He was duly issued a RM1,000 fine on August 7 for failing to comply with quarantine orders to prevent the spread of the virus and issued an apology on August 22, acknowledging his oversight.

Yesterday, the attorney general (AG) issued a statement saying it will not prosecute Khairuddin for not undergoing home quarantine after returning from Turkey in July because the Health Ministry had not issued such an order.

The AG said a home surveillance order issued by the Health Ministry first before someone could be said to have broken quarantine and cited the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

However, politicians from both the government side and the Opposition have criticised the non-prosecution decision, saying it creates the perception of double standards which will further erode public trust towards the institutions.

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