Covid-19 knows no double standards

pic by BERNAMA

“IF ‘HUDUD’ is implemented, the people will get their arms chopped off, while ministers will only get their nails cut.”

This is a rough translation of what Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said in response to Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali’s (picture) RM1,000 “slap-on-the-wrist” fine for violating his 14-day mandatory home quarantine order.

News portal Malaysiakini recently reported Syed Saddiq, 28, as saying that even existing laws are being enforced unfairly, when a minister is only fined RM1,000, while an ordinary citizen is fined a much higher sum and even jailed.

“Ordinary citizens who break quarantine are fined RM12,000 and jailed up to five months,” said the Muar MP.

One of the most popular examples of such ordinary citizens is the “pink wristband makcik” whose picture went viral when she was spotted dining at a restaurant while donning the Health Ministry’s pink wristband.

She was slapped with an RM8,000 fine and jailed for a day. If she had failed to pay the fine, she would be behind bars for five whole months.

Another “favourite” is the student who was fined RM1,000 for briefly pulling down his face mask as his face felt itchy, while there were pictures of politicians in crowded places without any face masks at all.

And who could forget, at the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO), when Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s daughter Datuk Nurul Hidayah paid only RM800 for breaching the MCO, while an ordinary citizen spent eight days in jail for the same offence.

B Lisa Christina was initially sentenced to 30 days in jail before having her sentence reduced to a RM1,000 fine.

Not only did she have to borrow money from her mother to settle the fine, but for those eight days in jail, the single mother said she felt shattered as she could not see her son.

There are two issues here: Syed Saddiq’s use of the “hudud” law as an example, and Mohd Khairuddin’s negative test results.

For the former, even non-supporters of the young politician would agree with him. How can we expect a strict Islamic law to be implemented in a multi-religious country, if we cannot even ensure a lighter man-made law to be carried out fairly? (PAS, for a few years, has been pushing for “hudud” law to be implemented in the country.)

One person who strongly disagreed with his comments and accused him of making fun of God’s law was public figure Ustaz Ahmad Dasuki Abd Rani.

Ahmad Dasuki took to Facebook to bash Syed Saddiq, saying that the latter had committed a great sin if he was intentionally belittling Islam.

Written with many exclamation and question marks, the ustaz accused Syed Saddiq of disrespecting Islamic laws.

“Hating the minister and making fun of the religion are two different things!!! Understand???” were among the things that he wrote, besides calling the former youth and sports minister a “child  who had just reached puberty”.

However, from this writer’s understanding and that of many netizens commenting on Ahmad Dasuki’s Facebook post, Syed Saddiq was not making a joke of the “hudud” law, but highlighted the double standards in law enforcements in Malaysia.

“Sorry ustaz, I don’t even like SS (Syed Saddiq), so there is no need for me to defend him, but your comments are unfair. SS criticised law enforcement by the government which is seen as choosing its victims,” wrote one Wan Zaimah.

“His intention was not to make fun of God’s law, but on the heavy punishment imposed on the people while dignitaries get minimal punishments. Syed Saddiq was just voicing out the reality of what is happening in our country,” another commenter, Zul Li said.

On the next issue, Mohd Khairuddin’s backers said it did not matter that he broke home quarantine since his Covid-19 tests came out negative, anyway.

His test results, however, is not the issue, but the fact that he violated the National Security Council’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342), which nobody should be exempted from.

“The Sivagangga cluster’s index case had also tested negative at first. To think that people would learn,” said a netizen.

Every day, we hear about daily arrests in triple digits from violations of the Recovery MCO. However, just a few days ago, a political gathering was held, boasting about 5,000 people in attendance. This had many questioning whether the 250-people rule had been lifted.

Double standards these days can hardly go unnoticed, not in an era where our every move can be video recorded; not in a time where information from all over the world is at our fingertips.

Impose the same punishment to all or none at all. These SOPs are meant to break Covid-19 transmissions, and the virus does not practise double standards.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.