KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Lim Guan Eng today criticised Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for appearing to miss the point in his response to the backlash that he has received for not complying with Covid-19 safety protocols after a trip abroad last month.
He added that the real issue was Khairuddin had flouted the 14-day quarantine rule required of everyone entering Malaysia, and the fact that he has tested negative for the highly infectious virus three times since his return was beside the point.
The DAP secretary-general said that with no apology apparently forthcoming, Khairuddin’s response “smacks of arrogance and irresponsibility.”
“Not only did Khairuddin refuse to own up to his wrongdoing but his response that he will leave it to the Health Ministry smacked of arrogance and irresponsibility,” Lim said in a statement today.
“Khairuddin further defended himself by saying that the fact he was allowed entry into the Palace on August 17, proved that he had tested negative for Covid-19.”
The plantation industries and commodities minister reportedly said yesterday that he had taken three Covid-19 tests since travelling to Turkey last month — and the results all came back negative.
He added that the first two tests were carried out upon his return to Malaysia on July 7, and then 13 days later.
The third test was taken recently, ahead of an event at Istana Negara on August 17.
The PAS MP for Kuala Nerus was also quoted as saying that the fact he was allowed into Istana Negara proved that he had tested negative for Covid-19, adding that he would have been denied entry otherwise.
Lim then said the purported failure by the authorities to take action against Khairuddin for violating Covid-19 protocols reinforces the perception that a double standard exists in Malaysia.
“Khairuddin still refuses to see that whether he tested negative is not the issue. If he had tested positive, he would be in hospital and the matter would have ended there,” the statement read.
“The issue is why he and his family were not subjected to the 14-day quarantine order. Clearly, this is a double standard in the enforcement of rule of law, where ministers get off scot-free, while ordinary folk are punished with arrest, handcuffed and fines.”
Yesterday, Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who was himself fined previously for violating the then movement control order (MCO), had also called on the government to ensure equal application of the law on all violators, but he stopped short of naming names.
Lim added that Khairuddin’s behaviour does not befit someone of his position as a government minister.
He then drew a comparison with the Agong who self-quarantined for two weeks after an Istana Negara member of staff tested positive for Covid-19 in March.
“Khairuddin should learn from the DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Agong who was praised for his ‘leadership by example’, imposing on himself a 14-day self-quarantine after one of his palace staff was tested positive for Covid-19.
“If the Agong can comply with Covid-19 safety protocols despite enjoying legal immunity, why not Khairuddin? Or does Khairuddin consider himself enjoying a special status?” Lim said.
Khairuddin came under intense scrutiny this week after an allegation that he failed to observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine order upon returning to Malaysia after travelling to Turkey last month.
On Tuesday, his predecessor, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, pointed out that the minister had visited Turkey between July 3 and 7, but was already back in Parliament on July 13.
She also revealed that Khairuddin had attended at least 12 programmes and meetings after his return.
The following day, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the minister should have been quarantined as it was compulsory to do so and that an investigation will be conducted to find out why this did not happen.
Under the National Security Council’s SOP, all returnees are tested on arrival and those with negative results must then serve out their 14-day quarantine, while those who test positive are sent to a hospital for further treatment.
A breach of this order is punishable under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 by up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both upon conviction.
A source close to the minister previously claimed Khairuddin went to Turkey with the prime minister’s approval and that the country had been in the “green zone” at the time.
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