KUALA LUMPUR, August 24 — Anyone who violates rules related to Covid-19 preventive measures will be subject to punishment, Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said today.
The deputy health minister was answering a question raised by Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who had asked the opinion of the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the issue of violations by VIPs like ministers.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali has come under fire after he failed to observe a mandatory 14-day home quarantine after returning on July 7 from a trip to Turkey with an entourage.
MOH claimed yesterday that it issued Khairuddin an RM1,000 compound on August 7 for breaching rules under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1998, and that the PAS minister has settled the fine. Other Malaysians, in comparison, have previously been charged in court for breaching home quarantine rules and sentenced to jail or even fined thousands of ringgit for each location visited while under quarantine.
“Laws were made not to abuse anyone, but to protect the country, to protect human lives. In fact, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the King and Prime Minister also followed home surveillance orders (HSO). So, those who go against the rules should be fined,” Dr Noor Azmi said in Dewan Rakyat during Question Time today.
“If the offence is committed under Act 342, section 25, then the maximum compound imposed is RM1,000. But for example, if a more serious offence is committed, police will conduct an investigation. So, it depends on the agencies involved such as police and lawyers.”
Section 24 (general penalty) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342) states that first-time offenders can be imprisoned for a term not exceeding two years, or fined, or both.
Section 25 (compounding of offences) of Act 342 states that the Director General or any authorised public officer may give a fine not exceeding RM1,000 to offenders who violate this Act. It is to be noted that police are investigating Khairuddin under the Act 342.
Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar (Amanah) questioned the apparent double standards in enforcing health standard operating procedures (SOPs) amid the Covid-19 outbreak, noting that Khairuddin was only fined RM1,000, while other ordinary citizens were fined up to RM12,000 for the same offence of breaking quarantine rules.
“Today, the government continues to uphold the sanctity of the law. There are no double standards. The minister has already paid the compound according to the law,” replied Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Redzuan Md Yusof.
Khairuddin has apologised for his mistake and agreed to donate four months’ salary to MOH’s Covid-19 fund.