KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — An attempt to explain Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali’s apparent failure to observe the mandatory 14-day quarantine for Covid-19 prevention has triggered indignation among Malaysians online.
A source close to the plantation industries and commodities minister sought to downplay the incident by saying the PAS leader tested negative on arrival, but Malaysians quickly noted that the test was part of the standard operating procedures, after which the quarantine was still compulsory.
Some asked if ministers were above the law, pointing out that ordinary Malaysians who did not observe their quarantine have been fined and even imprisoned.
Yet others pressed Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to explain why the minister did not need to undergo the quarantine.
No one should be above the law. Period.— Dr Jemilah Mahmood (@JemilahMahmood) August 19, 2020
“He is immune to the virus or the quarantine law? Everyone needs to be quarantined for 14 days despite being tested negative for the 1st test! Why is he so special? NO DOUBLE STANDARD PLS!!!” one user commented on Facebook.
Still more seized on the source’s claim that Turkey was a “green zone” country, arguing that there was no such official classification and that Covid-19 was and still is rampant there.
At the start of Khairuddin’s visit on July 3, Turkey already had over 203,000 cases. This rose to nearly 208,000 on July 7 when he departed for Malaysia.
Yesterday, Khairuddin’s predecessor, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, pointed out that the minister was already back in Parliament on July 13 despite only returning to Malaysia six days prior.
She said this was a clear breach of the standard operating procedures introduced to contain Covid-19 infections in Malaysia.
Under the National Security Council’s SOP, all returnees are tested on arrival and those with negative results must then serve out their 14-day quarantine while those testing positive are sent to a hospital for further treatment.
They are tested again on the 13th day of their quarantine and are only released upon a negative Covid-19 result.
A breach of this order is punishable under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 by up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both upon conviction.