PM’s defence on Hishammuddin criticised

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

IT IS not a question of compound or criminal offense but rather leading by example, Ipoh Timur MP Wong Kah Woh said to Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“It is whether the government will demonstrate its political will to lead by example or continue to allow top government figures breaching the standard operating procedures (SOPs) with minimal fine,” Wong said in response to the PM’s statement on the issue of SOPs violation by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture).

The PM had said that there is no need for the minister’s resignation for failing to comply with the SOPs as the offence is not a crime.

He stressed that the government does not differentiate individuals who commit any offence and that the punishment is fair to those who violate the SOPs.

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a compound. What is important is that the government is being fair. Whoever breaches the Covid-19 protocols will be compounded. If everyone had to resign from receiving such fines, then no one would be available for work,” Ismail Sabri said.

“There is no concept that people in high places are not compounded and only ordinary folk are compounded. Anyone who violates the SOPs will be compounded, including the defence minister and others, no matter who they are,” he told the media after launching the Report on Key Findings of the Population and Housing Census 2020 yesterday.

Wong, who is also the Public Accounts Committee chairman, said he is shocked with the PM’s remarks.

“It simply shows that the PM is not serious in ensuring his members in the government adhere to the government’s restrictions and effort in combating Covid-19.”

He noted that this is not the first time a high-ranking government figure breached SOPs.

“This time (it) is Hishammuddin, the senior minister who is responsible for drafting, finalising and issuing the SOPs. He is supposed to lead by example. He is supposed to demonstrate to the people what can be done and what not. Yet, he has chosen to ignore it,” said Wong.

“It is the political responsibility for Hishammuddin to resign. No other options. It is all about the credibility of a government,” he added.

MoH had issued compounds for the organisers of an MIC Brigade launching ceremony as well as several senior government leaders including Hishammuddin for violating Covid-19 SOPs at the event in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, on Sunday.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh has called for the resignation of Hishammuddin for breaching the SOPs during the event.

She said this was not Hishammuddin’s first time caught breaking government-imposed rules citing the minister’s vaping in Parliament as an example.

Hishammuddin, meanwhile, had acknowledged his error on Twitter and said he accepts whatever action would be taken against him and other leaders.