Govt’s Chief Secretary Zuki in quarantine as Covid-19 close contact, cancels press conference on Emergency

Ida Lim
·4-min read
Zuki said he would continue to carry out his duties as the chief secretary to the government.  — Picture via Facebook
Zuki said he would continue to carry out his duties as the chief secretary to the government. — Picture via Facebook

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Malaysia’s top civil servant Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali has cancelled his press conference originally scheduled for this afternoon on how the government would be managing the Emergency imposed nationwide, as he must self-isolate after coming into contact with a Covid-19 patient.

In a brief statement on his Instagram account, Zuki said he would however continue to carry out his duties as the chief secretary to the government.

“It is informed that I am now undergoing self-quarantine at my residence until January 31, 2021 based on advice from the Health Ministry.

“This is following one of my close contacts being found to be Covid-19 positive on January 22, 2021,” he said.

“However, this situation does not affect the administrative matters of the Public Service as I will continue to fulfill this duty by working from home for meetings that are chaired or attended by me.

“The Emergency Management press conference that was supposed to be held this afternoon has to be cancelled and I will issue a press statement regarding the administrative mechanisms for Emergency Management,” he concluded.

About an hour before Zuki’s announcement of his self-quarantine as a close contact to a Covid-19 patient, government bodies including the National Security Council had started sharing on Twitter a poster of Zuki’s planned press conference on the Emergency.

The poster bore the logo of the Chief Secretary to the Government’s Office, and was scheduled to be broadcast ‘live’ at 2.30pm today by government-owned news outlets RTM and Bernama.

With the cancellation of the press conference, however, Zuki is expected to issue a statement instead.

After Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on January 11 presented the Cabinet’s advice to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for Emergency to be declared nationwide from January 11 to August 1, the king had issued a Proclamation of Emergency for Malaysia from January 11 to August 1.

On January 12 which was also when the Emergency was made known to the public, Zuki had in a statement said this Emergency aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19 infections was different from the Emergency declared in 1969, noting that the 1969 situation was due to security threats and required tight control by the country’s security forces to handle the tense situation then. The 1969 Emergency was declared after the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

Also in the January 12 statement, Zuki had said the country’s administration would not be affected by the Emergency in the current situation, as the public sector and private sector would continue to operate in line with standard operating procedures under the ongoing movement control order (MCO).

He had also given his assurance that the public service would continue to ensure the government’s delivery system is not affected during the Emergency.

On January 18, Zuki had appeared in the television programme Bicara Naratif RTM to provide explanation about the management of the Emergency together with the National Security Council director-general Datuk Mohd Rabin Basir.

Zuki had in a Facebook post said he had in the television programme stressed that the public service machinery would not be affected during the Emergency and would continue to function by “holding on the concept of neutrality and professionalism and respecting the principle of separation of powers”, saying that he had ordered all secretary-generals and director-generals in government bodies to ensure the government’s service delivery is at its best even during the Emergency.

On January 24, Muhyiddin shared that he had chaired the ruling government Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) presidential council’s two-hour online meeting that day which were attended by 12 presidents and one deputy president of PN-aligned parties, with the meeting including a briefing on the Emergency by law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, Zuki, and Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail.

Muhyiddin said the briefing was on the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 gazetted on January 14, the management of the Emergency and the Covid-19 vaccination plan.

In a photograph shared by Muhyiddin on Facebook, the online meeting attendees — including Zuki — were seen in front of individual cameras for the virtual meeting.

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