KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob responded today to allegations that he had apparently not followed his own advice on the importance of maintaining physical distancing when attending a meeting recently.
A series of pictures, which went viral on social media, purportedly showed Ismail Sabri, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Ali and Melaka Speaker Datuk Seri Abd Rauf Yusoh sitting close to each other while surrounded by other people.
In response, the minister took to Instagram to share an alternative photo taken at the same meeting showing the group from another angle where there appeared to be a larger gap between attendees.
“Several pictures (are circulating) with slanderous accusations against me, the Melaka chief minister and the Melaka state assembly Speaker when I was on a working visit to Melaka last Saturday — supposedly showing no physical distancing between us,” he said to his over 158,000 Instagram followers late last night.
Ismail Sabri blamed the angle of the viral pictures for giving the impression that no social distancing was maintained.
“But this is the real picture. May Allah open the hearts of these people so that they will no longer slander anyone in this way,” he said.
He added that observing a one-metre gap with the next person was not needed in restaurants and that just having a chair in between is enough.
As the senior minister (defence), Ismail Sabri conducts daily press briefings on the enforcement of the mandatory SOP that all Malaysians must follow during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since yesterday, satirical artist and activist Fahmi Reza has been among those who have taken to social media to share pictures of the Melaka meeting, while commenting on the perceived double standard in both the adherence to and enforcement of Covid-19 SOP in the country.
"Kadang-kadang kita nampak dalam gambar yang ramai-ramai duduk meeting rapat-rapat keliling meja tu sebenarnya dalam masa yang berbeza-beza di tempat berbeza, tetapi dari segi teknologi moden gambar itu disatukan seolah-olah nampak meeting itu bersama." pic.twitter.com/JNWGXjn0S4— Fahmi Reza (@kuasasiswa) November 30, 2020