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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Several Opposition lawmakers today raised safety concerns as they alleged Keningau MP Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan had broken Covid-19 quarantine orders to attend today’s Dewan Rakyat sitting.
The matter was first raised during Ministers’ Question Time (MQT) by PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil who asked Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman to deliberate whether Kitingan should remove himself from today’s proceedings as he had recently returned from Sabah.
“Point of order, Yang di-Pertua, I was made to understand that there are some among us that recently returned from Sabah but I am not sure whether YB from Keningau should be in quarantine or not. I request Yang di-Pertua [to deliberate] on the matter,” he said.
Following Fahmi’s question, Warisan’s Seppanggar MP Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman also stated that Kitingan was present at the Sabah state assembly on November 12 and should not be in Parliament today as he has not met the 14-day mandatory quarantine order.
“He attended the Sabah state assembly on Thursday, November 12, so if calculated according to the number of days, he should not be in the Dewan today because the basis of being quarantined is to protect members of Parliament from being infected with Covid-19,” said.
Azalina then responded briefly, stating that she will get an immediate answer from the Dewan Rakyat secretary on the matter and will subsequently inform Parliament but insisted that the proceedings continue in the meantime.
This then drew a response from DAP’s Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong who asked Azalina to order Kitingan to exit the Dewan Rakyat while they waited for the answer.
“Before we get the answer, perhaps Yang di-Pertua could order the Keningau MP to leave the Dewan because we want to err on the side of caution when it comes to infectious diseases,” he said.
Azalina replied that she needed time to confirm Kitingan’s quarantine status.
“I need to get confirmation first. If Yang Berhormat (MP Keningau) entered the Dewan through the front door, then the matter is up to the Parliament authorities. Yang Berhormat is in the Dewan now. I cannot order him to leave unless I receive confirmation from the Dewan Rakyat secretary, so I would like some time. Can you all be fair to me as well?” she said.
DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching then asked Azalina to compel Kitingan to explain whether he had undergone the 14-day mandatory quarantine, to which Azalina again stressed that she needed confirmation from the Dewan Rakyat secretary.
Teo then asked that the Parliament session be postponed until confirmation was received, which drew a response from Azalina, who said that Teo has no power to compel her to do so and again called for patience as she awaits confirmation.
Azalina then received a written response from the Dewan Rakyat secretary, stating that Kitingan had been cleared to attend today’s sitting.
“YB has been allowed to attend by the Parliament clinic’s doctor. He has already received a release order following the end of his quarantine order from the Ministry of Health (MOH),” she said.
However, this drew heckles from the Opposition MPs, including Teo, who stated that a “double standard” was being applied to Kitingan.
Azalina denied this and ordered proceedings to continue as scheduled, with Education Minister Radzi Jidin to continue with his MQT.
Kitingan ordered to stay out of today’s Dewan Rakyat proceedings
Following the conclusion of Radzi’s MQT session, Azis brought up Kitingan’s alleged quarantine breach with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, insisting that a “double standard” had been applied.
Azhar however responded that the Keningau MP had received a quarantine order from the MOH on November 12 and subsequently received a release order on November 23.
Azis then stated that Kitingan was spotted in Kota Kinabalu on November 13 and repeated his allegation of a quarantine breach.
Azhar then explained that he had asked Kitingan not to attend today’s proceedings as a precautionary measure.
* Editor's note: An earlier version of this article contained an error which has since been rectified.