MCA: Complainants can appeal AGC’s ‘NFA’ on Khairuddin over failure to self-quarantine; minister shouldn’t escape on technicality

Ida Lim
·5-min read
Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali speaks to reporters during a press conference in Parliament on August 5, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali speaks to reporters during a press conference in Parliament on August 5, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — The Attorney General’s Chambers’ (AGC) decision not to charge Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for the minister’s failure to undergo self-quarantine after his overseas trip in July is not the end of the matter and could be appealed, MCA has said.

MCA spokesman Chan Quin Er, a former deputy public prosecutor, said the AGC’s classification of Khairuddin’s case as requiring “no further action” (NFA) “will not be the end”.

Unlike cases that are closed permanently if the accused is acquitted after being charged, Khairuddin has not been charged and attempts to have him prosecuted can still be pursued by those who had lodged police reports against the minister, she said.

Noting that it is the attorney general, and not the police, who decides whether to press criminal charges against an individual, Chan said appeals should be directed to the AGC.

‘Under Article 145(3) of the Constitution the power to institute criminal prosecution is vested with the Public Prosecutor, not the police.

“Therefore, a complainant can still appeal to the AGC against the decision to NFA,” she said in a statement issued late last night, noting that there were 27 police reports as of August 23 against Khairuddin.

“Appeals against the decision for NFA can still be made to the Prosecution Division of the AGC, either through the State level or directly to the AGC’s head office in Putrajaya,” she added.

Chan also said there should not be unequal enforcement of the law between the ordinary members of the public and ministers.

“We cannot jail the common rakyat for breaching quarantine while ministers get off due to ‘technical errors’. There can be no ‘dua darjat’ for we all are equal before the law,” she said, referring to the phrase in Malay that roughly translates to two social classes.

Yesterday, the attorney general said the AGC has 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 attorney general 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.

Chan said there should not be unequal enforcement of the law between the ordinary members of the public and ministers. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Chan said there should not be unequal enforcement of the law between the ordinary members of the public and ministers. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Why the RM1,000 compound if no rules broken?

Chan highlighted, however, that the government requires all international arrivals amid the Covid-19 pandemic to undergo a compulsory quarantine as ordered by an authorised officer, under Section 15 (1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

Noting that those put under such quarantine orders are known as Persons Under Surveillance (PUS), Chan disputed the suggestion that Khairuddin was not a PUS simply because as he was not given a home surveillance order or Form 14b by an authorised officer and rejected the notion that he did consequently not breach any rules under the 1988 law.

“If so, why then was Dr Khairuddin issued a RM1,000 compound for ‘failing to abide by the rules under Act 342’? What rules did he break? Why was he issued a compound if he did not break any of the rules?

“It has been made clear in multiple government circulars that ALL incoming individuals entering Malaysia from abroad is a PUS (unless otherwise exempted), and must be subjected to compulsory quarantine orders.

“You do not only become a PUS upon being given a copy of Form 14b; you are automatically one if you enter or re-enter Malaysia from abroad. If Dr Khairuddin falls under any exemption from compulsory quarantine, the authorities must be able to point out which,” she said.

“Otherwise, this sets a dangerous precedent where any PUS the authorities forgot to issue Form 14b to can breach quarantine without consequences,” she added.

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.

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