AG: No charges against minister Khairuddin due to insufficient evidence, no MOH-issued home quarantine order

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali speaks during the Jom MSPO programme at Dewan Tan Sri Haji Ghazali in Slim River August 28, 2020. — Bernama pic
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali speaks during the Jom MSPO programme at Dewan Tan Sri Haji Ghazali in Slim River August 28, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — The Attorney General (AG) today said it will not prosecute minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for not undergoing home quarantine after returning from abroad in July because the Health Ministry had not issued such an order.

Citing the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 or Act 342 as it is otherwise known, the AG explained that there must be a home surveillance order issued by the Health Ministry first before someone could be said to have committed the offence of breaching a home quarantine order.

“Accordingly, based on the above consideration, the Attorney General’s Chambers has decided to not prefer any charge against the Minister due to insufficient evidence and thus fails to meet the required burden of proof under the law,” the attorney general said in a statement.

Before providing the AGC’s conclusion on why Khairuddin is not being charged, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun had in the statement listed out the chronology of events in the plantation industries and commodities minister’s case.

Noting that the police had carried out and completed an investigation on a complaint against Khairuddin, the attorney general said that police investigations showed that the minister had visited Turkey on July 3 and flew back to Malaysia on July 7.

The attorney general said that Khairuddin had upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport underwent a health inspection and Covid-19 swab test with the result found to be negative.

The attorney general added that the authorised officer from the Health Ministry — appointed under Section 3 of the same 1988 law — had then allowed Khairuddin to return home.

Khairuddin then went for a second Covid-19 test on July 10 at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for the purpose of attending a ceremony at Istana Negara on August 17, with the second test also returning negative, the attorney general said.

The attorney general said that a complainant had lodged a police report against Khairuddin, claiming that the minister had allegedly “flouted a mandatory home quarantine order” upon his return from Turkey with the quarantine period supposedly to run from July 7 to July 21.

The attorney general said the police had conducted a “thorough investigation” on the police report lodged by the complainant, with the investigation paper then referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers for further instruction.

The attorney general however said the AGC found that the authorities did not issue a home surveillance order (Form 14b) on Khairuddin before he was allowed to leave for home after his July return from Turkey.

“After full consideration and deliberation of all available evidence, this Chambers finds that there was no home surveillance or observation order issued by the authorised officer in the exercise of his discretion to the Minister for him to observe such home surveillance or observation order as stipulated under subsection 15(1) of Act 342 as alleged by the complainant.

“Form 14b as prescribed in the Guidelines by the Ministry of Health which contained an order for home surveillance and/or observation order under subsection 15(1) of Act 342 had never been issued to the Minister before he was allowed to leave,” the attorney general said, referring to Khairuddin as the minister.

“For an act to be considered as an offence of breaking a home quarantine order under Act 342, the home surveillance or observation order is required to be issued to the Minister under subsection 15(1) of Act 342,” the attorney general said when again referring to Khairuddin as the minister, before concluding that Khairuddin is not being charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

Under Section 15(1) of the law referred by the attorney-general, an authorised officer may order any “contact” to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or order for the contact to undergo surveillance until he “can be discharged without danger to the public”.

Under the same law’s Section 2(1), a “contact” is defined as any person who has been or is likely to have been exposed to the risk of contracting an infectious disease, including any person arriving from an infected area.

Earlier today, Bukit Aman’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Datuk Huzir Mohamed announced that the Attorney General’s Chambers had classified Khairuddin’s alleged breach of quarantine orders as “no further action” (NFA), as Khairuddin was not given a home surveillance order.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok had in August pointed out that Khairuddin was already back in Parliament on July 13, despite only returning to Malaysia on July 7 from abroad.

Khairuddin, who is Kuala Nerus MP for PAS, has since attracted widespread criticism for failing to comply with the government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for all Malaysians who had returned from abroad.

On August 22, the Health Ministry said an enforcement officer had issued a compound of RM1,000 to Khairuddin on August 7 over the failure to comply with rules under the 1988 law or Act 342, while also confirming that Khairuddin had paid the compound.

Khairuddin had on August 22 apologised for what he described as an oversight and said he would donate his salary as a minister from May to August 2020 to a national fund for Covid-19.

On October 15, Khairuddin said he had left it to the authorities to investigate his alleged breach of a 14-day mandatory quarantine order, and that he was waiting for the attorney general to announce the outcome of the investigations and whether he would be charged.

“I am also leaving it to the government to act on me if I had committed an offence,” he was quoted saying on October 15.

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.

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.

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