KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — The decision by the attorney general (AG) to not pursue any charges against a quarantine-breaking Cabinet minister only strengthens public impression that the government is selective when penalising non-compliant individuals, an Umno leader said.
Taking to his Facebook today, Datuk Puad Zarkashi also alleged the authorities have made the medical officer, who attended to Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, an easy scapegoat.
“There are two reasons why the decision was questioned. Firstly, why did it take so long to investigate and decide? It seems as if the authorities dragged their feet to find reasons.
Secondly, the government is seen as not being strict. The Health Ministry officer who allegedly did not provide Form 14b to Khairuddin was made the scapegoat,” Puad wrote.
He added that Khairuddin should know from his own conscience that he has a responsibility to self-quarantine upon returning from abroad.
“Don’t tell me he could not think that?” Puad posed.
He pointed out that other Malaysians had kept themselves at home for 14 days after returning from Sabah even before the September 27 date given by the government to self-isolate, adding that some spent their own money to conduct a swab test for Covid-19.
“Now the government is accused of committing ‘selective assertiveness’. The government increased the anger of the people,” the Umno supreme council member said.
Yesterday, the attorney general (AG) said the AGC decided not to charge Khairuddin as there was insufficient evidence to do so, noting that Khairuddin could only be considered to have committed the offence of breaking a home quarantine order if a home surveillance order had been issued to him.
In explaining the decision not to initiate charges, the AG said that an authorised officer from the Health Ministry had allowed Khairuddin to leave for home after his return from a July flight from Turkey without issuing him the home surveillance order, also known as form 14b.
Based on police investigations, Khairuddin had visited Turkey on July 3 and flew back to Malaysia on July 7. Seputeh MP Teresa Kok had in August pointed out that Khairuddin was already back in Parliament on July 13.
Khairuddin, who is the Kuala Nerus MP from 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.
On August 22, the Health Ministry said an enforcement officer had issued a compound of RM1,000 to Khairuddin on August 7 over the failure to comply with rules under the 1988 law or Act 342, while also confirming that Khairuddin had paid the compound.
Khairuddin had on August 22 apologised for what he described as an oversight and said he would donate his salary as a minister from May to August 2020 to a national fund for Covid-19.
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 testing 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.