Durian feast video: Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker admits gathering took place during current lockdown, apologises and says will aid police probe

Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon clarified today that the video was taken during the current movement control order. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon clarified today that the video was taken during the current movement control order. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon today confirmed that a video showing him and other individuals at a durian feast is new and taken recently during the ongoing lockdown, after having previously suggested that it could be an old video.

In a statement today to explain the video at a durian orchard that went viral yesterday, Rashid, who is also Batu Pahat MP, apologised for the confusion over when the incident in the video had taken place.

“I apologise for the confusion that arose when there were media who contacted me to ask about the video of me at the orchard and I had answered the question without watching the video myself initially,” he said, referring to news reports yesterday where he had told the media that he believed the video to have been an old one taken last year before the current lockdown.

Rashid said he only had the chance to analyse the video after his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday.

Today, he clarified that the video was taken during the current movement control order (MCO).

He said that he frequently receives complaints from smallholder farmers including those who plant vegetables and fruits since the first MCO last year until now, with the complaints being over their difficulties in selling their produce and declining sales.

“After looking at it, one of the videos that went viral yesterday is my visit to a durian kampung orchard operated by the local community who has also been affected due to this MCO,” he said. 

He added that Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was coincidentally on a work visit to Batu Pahat on the same day of the video, and that durians were gifted to her entourage to be brought home.

He said that he was then taken to the orchard by one of the farmers in the afternoon ― after Zuraida’s entourage had returned ― to hear about problems faced and for further discussion.

“Upon my arrival at the orchard, that durian orchard farmer served it to us. I ate a bit of the durian while discussing with the orchard farmer about assistance measures that can be given,” he said, adding that he left the programme early after discussions ended as he had to return to Kuala Lumpur.

“I apologise over this error and leave this to further investigation and I promise to provide cooperation to the police,” he concluded.

In his statement, Rashid did not give the date of the durian feast that had taken place.

Yesterday, news portal Malaysiakini reported Rashid as denying he had violated any MCO SOPs, as he believed the video was taken last year before the first MCO.

Rashid’s aide was also reported telling Malaysiakini that the viral video showed an event last year, denying that it had taken place on June 27 in Batu Pahat.

The aide was also quoted suggesting that the similar clothing of individuals in the video and of individuals in June 27 photographs of an event at the Batu Pahat Municipal Council involving Rashid and Zuraida could be a “coincidence”. 

In the video, multiple individuals were seen either not wearing face masks or eating with their face masks lowered, while Rashid was seen eating while sitting with a few of these individuals while the other individuals were seen scattered throughout the area.

Malaysiakini yesterday also reported Zuraida as confirming that she was present at the June 27 event at the Batu Pahat Municipal Council with Rashid, and that she was presented with durians outside the municipal council’s office building while leaving and clarifying that she did not join any durian feast on that day which she believed occurred elsewhere.

On June 27, Zuraida’s official Facebook page said she had completed her official work visit at the Batu Pahat Municipal Council in Johor to look at plans for upgrades, noting that a RM100,000 allocation had been approved for the building of a fire post in Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat as there is no fire station nearby, and that an RM2 million allocation was approved for the upgrade of small high-risk buildings such as local hawkers’ stalls and for drainage system in areas that frequently face floods.

On Twitter, eagle-eyed users had scrutinised the video and pointed out clues that indicated it was not an old video taken last year.

The visual clues included a tudung worn by a woman in the video clip, which a Twitter user pointed out is a new product released by the brand Fareha two months ago for this year’s Raya collection.

Another clue pointed out was the Liverpool jersey worn by a man in the video which featured the logo of the football team’s new kit supplier Nike instead of previous supplier New Balance, with a Twitter user pointing out that this jersey edition which carries the English Premier League (EPL) Champions gold sleeve patch on the right-hand sleeve is the 2020/2021 edition (for the season from September 2020 to May 2021) that would not have been available during last year’s durian season.

New Balance was the official kit supplier for Liverpool up until July 31, 2020, while Nike officially replaced New Balance and started supplying jersey kits to Liverpool from August 1, 2020.

Yesterday afternoon, Batu Pahat district police chief ACP Ismail Dollah said police had detected a viral video on social media showing Rashid and a few others eating durian in an orchard believed to be in the Batu Pahat district, and that a police report was subsequently lodged regarding the video.

Ismail said the police have opened investigation papers to investigate the incident shown in the video clip, with the probe to be under Regulation 18(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Regulations 2021, adding that police will be calling in Rashid and the other individuals in the video them to assist in the investigations.

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