KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Malaysian Cabinet minister who caused a public uproar for failing to follow the government's mandatory quarantine order after returning from abroad, apologised on Saturday (Aug 22).
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said he will also donate four months of his salary to the government's Covid-19 fund.
He was earlier slapped a fine of RM1,000 (S$328) by the Health Ministry for flouting the quarantine order. He has paid the fine.
"Referring to the Health Ministry's press statement on the issue of the recovery movement control order (MCO) standard operating procedures (SOPs) today, I apologise to all Malaysians for the mistake that has occurred.
"As a Minister, I have a responsibility to follow all the regulations and SOPs throughout the recovery MCO," Datuk Mohd Khairuddin said in a statement.
"To show that sense of responsibility, I will be returning all of my salary as a minister from May until August 2020 as a contribution to the national Covid-19 fund under the Health Ministry.
"My salary for March and April 2020 was also contributed towards the fund, as per the Cabinet's previous decision, " he added.
In March, the Cabinet decided that all of its members' salaries will be deducted for the next two months and contributed to the Covid-19 fund.
Mr Mohd Khairuddin returned from Turkey on July 7, but instead of being quarantined for the mandatory 14 days for returnees from abroad, he was seen on his social media postings going about meeting people and attending functions with other ministers.
This raised public anger as other Malaysians had been fined, and even jailed, for not heeding the mandatory quarantine order, as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus.
Mr Khairuddin, a leader of Parti Islam SeMalaysia, had for days remained defiant despite being exposed on social media.
The normal procedure would be for him to be given a Health Ministry's pink wristband like all other returnees - to indicate he is a "person under investigation" by the ministry - and then placed under quarantine until July 20.
The minister instead said he had taken the Covid-19 test three times and all showed he was clear of the virus. He said he took the tests upon returning from Turkey on July 7, another one 13 days later as mandated, and recently prior to attending an event at the Palace.
But Malaysians on social media and opposition politicians continued to criticise him for flouting the mandatory quarantine order.
Many pointed out that a woman was recently fined RM8,000 (S$2,620) for flouting the quarantine order.
A man who returned from India but was seen visiting his restaurant in Kedah a few days later, was jailed for five months and fined RM12,000.