Minister: No ‘antara dua darjat’ over Covid-19 SOPs; five charged in court for breaching quarantine

Ida Lim
·4-min read
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Duties) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof during a press conference after chairing the Central Disaster Management Committee Meeting at Bangunan Perdana Putra September 28, 2020. — Bernama pic
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Duties) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof during a press conference after chairing the Central Disaster Management Committee Meeting at Bangunan Perdana Putra September 28, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — The government does not accord different treatment when enforcing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as such rules are applicable on everyone, a minister has claimed.

Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (special functions), said the SOPs issued by the government are “applicable to everyone without regard for a person’s rank and position”.

“Any breach to SOPs and rules that have been fixed will be taken action against based on the legal provisions under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

“Therefore, the situation of antara dua darjat as raised by the Lembah Pantai MP does not exist at all,” he said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday, referring to the Malay phrase that means double standard.

Redzuan was responding to PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, who had asked the prime minister to state clearly if there is such a situation in the implementation of the National Security Council’s SOPs to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Redzuan further stated that government agencies have been empowered under Act 342 to carry out enforcement on the SOPs to ensure compliance, besides educating the public to make the new normal a culture in their life.

Separately, Redzuan responded to a question from Parti Amanah Negara’s Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar, who had asked the prime minister to state the number of Malaysians and foreigners that have been quarantined after entering Malaysia starting from April 2020, and how many of those who breached quarantine orders have been charged in court.

In response to Mahfuz’s question, Redzuan replied that 52,456 persons have entered Malaysia through the KLIA and KLIA2 airports from July 24, 2020 until November 15, 2020, with 56 per cent being Malaysians (29,637) and 44 per cent being non-citizens (22,819).

“A total of five persons who had breached quarantine orders were charged in court and were convicted, with three of them fined by the court with a total of RM13,000 and two more fined a total of RM20,000 and imprisonment,” he said in the brief reply.

Police conduct road blocks at the Jepalang Toll in Perak November 9, 2020. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Police conduct road blocks at the Jepalang Toll in Perak November 9, 2020. — Picture by Farhan Najib

The antara dua darjat phrase has been popularly associated with allegations of double standards in treatment, or comparisons of senior government officials receiving relatively lighter penalties for failure to comply with SOPs in relation to Covid-19.

In August, Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who was himself previously fined RM1,000 for attending a lunch gathering in April during the movement control order, had said that there should not be a “dua darjat” situation where elites get away while others are penalised for violating SOPs.

After public uproar over minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali’s failure to self-quarantine at home after his return from a July trip to Turkey, the attorney general had in October said the minister was not charged in court as there was insufficient evidence to do so.

The attorney general explained 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, but 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.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok had in August pointed out that Khairuddin was already back in Parliament on July 13, despite only returning to Malaysia on July 7 from abroad. Those who enter Malaysia — including Malaysians returning from abroad — are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine as a precaution to control the spread of Covid-19.

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.


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