MCO violations: How Neelofa and husband Haris kept drawing police attention

Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor and her husband Muhammad Haris Mohd Ismail arrive at the Seremban Magistrate’s Court May 20, 2021. — Bernama pic
Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor and her husband Muhammad Haris Mohd Ismail arrive at the Seremban Magistrate’s Court May 20, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Celebrity entrepreneur Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor and her Islamic televangelist husband, Haris Ismail, have repeatedly come under police investigation after their alleged violations of the movement control order (MCO) made headlines.

Amid growing public criticism against preferential treatment for VIPs, Malaysians with internet access have been quick to point out the alleged breaches. One keyboard warrior even started an online petition to demand that Neelofa and her husband, better known as PU Riz, be punished with jail time for their repeated violations.

Here is a list of the couple’s violations — admitted and alleged — so far.

March wedding

On March 27, Neelofa married PU Riz at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, with some 200 guests reportedly attending the hotel event.

Videos and images depicting the attendees failing to maintain the required one-metre physical distance and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder were later circulated on social media.

The wedding was also attended by Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad who has refused to comment on the alleged breaches at the event.

A day after the wedding, Dang Wangi police chief Mohamad Zainal said the police have started investigations under Section 21A of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

A month later, Neelofa was fined RM20,000. Twenty of her family members were also fined RM1,500 each, resulting in RM30,000 collectively for ignoring the minimum physical distance during the ceremony to prevent spreading Covid-19.

Langkawi honeymoon trip

Before the controversy over her wedding even died down, pictures emerged on social media of the couple playing water activities off the island of Langkawi in Kedah, despite an interstate travel ban to curb the coronavirus from spreading.

Neelofa had justified her trip as work-related, saying she was conducting business on behalf of bubble tea chain Chatime Malaysia and had a police permit to travel to support her assertions.

A statement by Chatime Malaysia’s group managing director Aliza Ali purported that the couple’s visit to three locations in the north of the peninsula — Sungai Petani and Langkawi in Kedah, and Kangar in Perlis — was to view sites of upcoming Chatime outlets.

However, further investigations by the police uncovered that the permit for interstate travel to Langkawi issued to Neelofa and three others was only for work purposes and could not be used for her honeymoon.

She was later fined for violating the permission granted to cross state borders, granted by officials under Sub-rule 4 (2) (d) of the same regulations, since its related activities were outside the scope of what is permitted by the police.

PU Riz was also issued a RM10,000 fine with no discount for violating the permission granted to cross state borders granted by officials under the same regulations.

Neelofa has since publicly apologised for this violation of the standard operating procedures to contain Covid-19.

Meme-filled Nilai 3 carpet shopping trip

On May 2, it was alleged that Neelofa and her husband again violated the Covid-19 SOPS, this time by travelling interstate to purchase rugs at a carpet store in Nilai 3, Negeri Sembilan.

Neelofa uploaded two Instagram Stories showing her and Haris shopping for carpets at Naeem Carpet store.

This quickly drew a multitude of responses from Malaysian social media users, who lambasted the couple for breaching yet another MCO restriction at a time when many were unable to cross the state border.

While the Attorney General’s Chambers decided not to prosecute the couple for specifically crossing state lines to purchase rugs, the newly-married lovebirds were still charged on May 20 at the Magistrate's Court in Seremban for other violations of the MCO.

Neelofa claimed trial to failing to register her details via the MySejahtera application or manually before entering the premises, and posted a bail of RM 5,000.

Her husband was also charged with the same offence, and an additional one for not wearing a face mask, posting a bail of RM 5,000 for each offence.

Hari Raya family gathering

Neelofa and her Islamic preacher husband yet again caught the eye of the authorities when a video of a Hari Raya celebration, allegedly with her family, was uploaded on Instagram.

The federal government expressly prohibited house visits a day before Aidilfitri.

In a statement on May 18, Brickfields police chief Assistant Commissioner Anuar Omar confirmed that a police report was lodged over the video, which showed the family celebrating Aidilfitri together, even as this was banned under the MCO, with the matter now under investigation under Section 17 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2021.

The controversy began after Neelofa’s sister allegedly uploaded a clip of her family members greeting each other at a residence.

The video clip, which has since been removed, was reportedly captioned “1 syawal yang penuh mulia”, which translates to “a glorious Syawal”.

Not wearing a facemask under her niqab

In an incident that epitomised Neelofa’s SOP breaches, she was accused of violating these even as she was being charged in court with previous violations.

On May 21, Seremban district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Said Ibrahim confirmed Neelofa was being investigated for allegedly failing to wear a facemask under her niqab during her court appearance at the Magistrates Court in Seremban on May 20.

In a statement, he said the police were made aware of her alleged violation through a report published on Malay news site Kosmo!.

On May 24, both Neelofa and Haris gave their statements to Seremban police on the matter.

This particular issue required a clarification from Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who stressed that wearing a face mask in public is mandatory even if a person was already wearing a niqab or face shield

Ismail said that this is clearly stipulated under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 or Act 342 of the need to wear a face mask.

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