Malaysian govt allows Cabinet minister to walk away despite breaking Covid-19 quarantine

Datuk Khairuddin's violation of the mandatory 14-day quarantine came to light when it was raised in Parliament on Aug 18 by an opposition MP. PHOTO: UST DR KHAIRUDDIN AT-TAKIRI/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government is allowing a Cabinet minister to walk away without being punished for flouting mandatory quarantine procedures after returning from a trip to Turkey in July.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has decided that "No Further Action" (NFA) will be taken against Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for breaking the home quarantine rule, police said on Wednesday (Oct 21).

"We have been instructed to inform about the outcome of the case. The instructions are to NFA the case due to the fact that the minister was not handed the 14B form to undergo quarantine," said Commissioner Huzir Mohamed head of the criminal investigation department at Malaysian police headquarters.

He said the decision was made, as no "concrete statement" was given that could be used to charge the minister.

When asked if the Health Ministry did not issue the form to the minister, Datuk Huzir said, "Yes".

The police had submitted their investigation papers to the AGC last month, after having recorded the statements of more than 10 people in connection with the case.

Datuk Khairuddin's violation of the mandatory 14-day quarantine came to light when it was raised in Parliament on Aug 18 by an opposition MP.

He had returned from what he described as a "semi-working trip" to that country, which included members of his family, on July 7.

After the issue was brought to light, the Health Ministry said it had slapped Mr Khairuddin with a RM1,000 (S$330) fine for breaching the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

Mr Khairuddin has said that he would forgo his salary from May to August as an act of remorse for violating the 14-day quarantine ruling.

In a statement, where he apologised to all Malaysians, he said he would donate the money to the national Covid-19 fund under the Health Ministry.

However, many Malaysians still insisted he should resign, noting that members of the public found guilty of the same breach were jailed and slapped with heftier fines.

The MP is one of 18 federal lawmakers is from Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), a staunch supporter of the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who has a thin majority in Parliament.

Later, Malaysia's Attorney-General Idrus Harun said in a statement that the minister will not be prosecuted because the Health Ministry had not issued a home quarantine order.

The A-G said, as reported by Malay Mail online news, that according to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, there must be a home surveillance order issued by the Health Ministry first before someone could be said to have committed the offence of breaching a home quarantine order.

"Accordingly, based on the above consideration, the Attorney-General's Chambers has decided to not prefer any charge against the minister due to insufficient evidence and thus fails to meet the required burden of proof under the law," he said, as quoted by the news site.

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