KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — The management of a condominium in Kuala Lumpur said it will amend a banner displayed in its premises ordering foreign residents to undergo Covid-19 testing, or risk being barred from its grounds.
The chairman of the Sri Angsana Hilir Condominium’s (SAHC) Joint Management Body (JMB), Adnan Mat Ali, 57 told Malay Mail that the condominium management members previously held a meeting and subsequently decided on the banner’s controversial wording.
However, he said that the management has not prevented anyone from accessing their homes in the Desa Pandan condominium, including those who refuse to have their body temperatures recorded by the security guards, despite it being made a house regulation.
“Though it is stated there, but we still allow them. This is because the majority of the foreigners here all work either in the security or construction sectors.
“Especially Rohingyas, who mostly do grass cutting. So that’s why we decided to put the banner, to encourage them to go for Covid-19 test. That’s all,” Adnan said.
The banner, which was first brought to Malay Mail’s attention by Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib, had demanded “compulsory Covid-19 test” for all “SAHC foreigners” starting on Monday.
It further said that foreigners are required to take Covid-19 test at any clinics, and “will be prohibited from entering SAHC” without the test slip or result.
This is despicable & discriminatory.#COVID19 doesn't give a damn whether ur Msian or a foreigner. Being Msian doesn't give any protection frm a virus. Being foreign doesn't make u more vulnerable. Protect each other.— Azrul Mohd Khalib (@azrulmohdkhalib) May 18, 2020
No one is safe, until we are ALL safe.#COVID19malaysia pic.twitter.com/bo7JMcip1I
Adnan said the management decided to focus on its foreign residents, claiming there were not many Covid-19 positive cases among locals, though he did not provide any evidence to back this assertion.
“We explain to them that they can still come in and out. No problem,” Adnan added, claiming no malice was intended behind the banner, merely concern for the condominium residents.
Adnan said several owners of units in the said condominium as well as agents who housed tenants there had also contacted him for clarification on the banner, and accepted the explanation given by the management.
Can residents or owners be stopped from accessing their homes?
When asked about the legality of such a move to bar foreign residents citing Covid-19 concerns, lawyer Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi said condominium managements have absolutely no right to do so.
“A property is a right of an individual conferred by Article 13 of the constitution. The management has no basis in law to do so.
“This applies to both owners and tenants. Once a tenant is in valid contract with the owner, the individual must be entitled to the right,” he told Malay Mail.
Article 13 in the Constitution handles rights to property, and stipulates that “no person shall be deprived of property save in accordance with law”.
Local government expert Derek Fernandez also agreed with Asheeq, saying a management committee (MC) or joint management committee (JMC) cannot prohibit any owner or their tenants from entering the condominium by imposing any requirements in relation to Covid-19.
The Petaling Jaya City Councillor said these include requirements which are not mandated under the law by the Minister of Health under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
“If they do so, they risk being sued by affected persons for damages or if the situation escalates, for example, they physically stop access or a fight breaks out, they may in addition to being sued for damages, also be held responsible for criminal offences, breach of peace and nuisance,” he told Malay Mail.
Derek added that in extreme cases, the Commissioner of Buildings may step in to take over operations of the condominium, if the commissioner is of the opinion the MC or JMC by their actions, are unfit to carry out their roles.
“If the MC or JMC wishes to impose additional measures they feel are objectively and factually needed to reduce risks, then the correct thing to do is to call an extraordinary general meeting and discuss these measures with all stakeholders, and get the approval of the parcel owners by amending the house rules in accordance with the law,” he added.
However, Derek pointed out that this too may still be challenged, if the restrain goes beyond that reasonably required, resulting in effective denial of access of an owner to their unit.