‘NFA’ against minister who didn’t quarantine after returning from Turkey? Public trust lost, say Kit Siang, MCA

Lim Kit Siang is seen outside the Eastin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur February 28, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Lim Kit Siang is seen outside the Eastin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur February 28, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Opposition MP Lim Kit Siang today accused the Attorney General’s Chambers of partisan bias after it decided not to act against a minister who courted controversy for flouting a mandatory home quarantine order.

The Iskandar Puteri MP’s criticism came shortly after the AGC issued a statement explaining its decision earlier this evening, which has since drawn public ire and allegations of government interference.

“In one fell swoop, the AGC has destroyed all public trust and confidence in its integrity and independence with its NFA decision on the case of the PAS Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali,” Lim said in a statement.

The NFA abbreviation stands for “no further action”.

Lim then suggested the ruling came at the behest of top officials in the Perikatan Nasional administration, and said the alleged interference had placed judicial integrity under the spotlight.

The DAP leader said there is immediate concern that efforts undertaken by the previous administration to reform and restore independence in key institutions would be undone.

“One of the tasks of the 22-month administration of the Pakatan Harapan Government after the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 was to restore public trust and confidence in the integrity, professionalism and independence of key national institutions,” he wrote.

“And it is very painful to see such work being undone by the backdoor government which illegitimately toppled the Pakatan Harapan government in the infamous Sheraton Move conspiracy.”

In a lengthy statement detailing his decision, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun said there was no ground for prosecution since there was technically no violation committed by the minister.

Idrus’ office had cited the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 or Act 342 to assert the need to have 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.

The AGC’s statement then said the police had carried out and completed an investigation on a complaint against Khairuddin, and found that the minister had undergone testing twice upon returning from a July 7 trip to Turkey.

Both the test results were said to have been negative.

The decision has sparked backlash that cuts across partisan lines.

Lim’s political rivals in the MCA said the AGC’s NFA decision will fuel allegations of double standards and erosion of public confidence.

“The decision... only feeds into speculation that there are double standards in law enforcement when dealing with political leaders in power as opposed to the common rakyat, said Tan Chee Hiong, the party’s youth deputy chairperson.

“Therefore, public confidence in the legal system would erode,” he added.

“When the ordinary rakyat breached the law, some were fined, others were sentenced to imprisonment and for the unluckier lot, both penalties were imposed. However, for a Cabinet Minister, he only had to pay a fine. This will appear as unreasonable.”

Khairuddin, the Kuala Nerus MP from PAS, was slapped with a RM1,000 compound by the Health Ministry on August 7 over the failure to comply with rules provided under Act 342.

The MOH in a statement issued on August 22 and amid public uproar confirmed that Khairuddin had paid the compound.

Khairuddin issued an apology on that same day, but only after intense public pressure that followed days of defiance. He had prior to that insisted to have infringe no laws.

In his public apology, the minister described his action 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.

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