‘No one above law’ in punishment for breaching SOPs

pic by BERNAMA

NOBODY is above the law when it comes to punishments for violating rules to curb the spread of Covid-19, including government officers, Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said.

Dr Noor Azmi, who himself was fined RM1,000 by the Gerik Magistrate Court in Perak four months ago, said laws were put in place to save lives and not to ill-treat any party.

“Even the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin underwent the 14-day self-quarantine under the home surveillance order.

“Whoever breaches the law will be given a compound of RM1,000, as provided in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342),” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

However, he said cases with more serious offences that are investigated by the police will be subjected to other penalties.

He was responding to Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Pakatan Harapan [PH]-Setiawangsa) who asked if VIPs should be given a larger compound for breaching standard operating procedures (SOPs) as they should lead by example.

The government came under heavy criticism after Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali (picture) was penalised the RM1,000 fine for the misconduct, an amount considered small and trivial compared to penalties imposed on other citizens who committed similar offences.

Opposition MPs made several attempts in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday to seek clarity on the RM1,000 backdated fine issued to the minister for breaching his quarantine order.

Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) had asked if the Health Ministry was aware of the compound issued on Aug 7 and if the ministry had given a recommendation for the police to investigate the matter.

Deputy Health Minister II Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang, who took the question, deflected the query saying it was politically motivated.

The ministry in a statement on Saturday said Mohd Khairuddin failed to abide by rules under Act 342 and was fined RM1,000 on Aug 7, which he had settled.

Mohd Khairuddin later apologised for his actions and said he would donate his salary from May to August to the Covid-19 relief fund.

The public, however, has continued to express their dissatisfaction online. Social media users said many questions remain unanswered, particularly whether his family members had been fined as well.

It was reported that Mohd Khairuddin had travelled to Turkey and was accompanied by his family members.

In a statement yesterday, Muhyiddin echoed Dr Noor Azmi in saying every Malaysian citizen is subjected to the country’s law without exception.

“I leave it to the relevant authorities to carry out thorough investigations and take necessary actions in accordance with the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Azmi said of the 125 Covid-19 deaths recorded to date, the highest reported was in Selangor with 24 deaths, followed by Johor (21), Federal Territories (19), Sarawak (19) and Negri Sembilan (8).

He said four deaths had involved frontline workers, though three were infected abroad.

He said this in response to the initial question by Datuk Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Perikatan Nasional-Sabak Bernam) on the latest status of Covid-19 cases in the country in terms of the number of cases.

He said the ministry has spent a total RM720 billion as of Aug 7 to procure medical equipment and medicine in its battle to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.