KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein should be relieved of his official ministerial duties after admitting to breaching pandemic regulations during an event in Johor yesterday, a federal Opposition lawmaker said today.
Joining the calls for Hishamuddin’s removal, Ipoh Timur MP Wong Kah Woh insisted that resignation is in order as it concerned the credibility of the government.
“The PM is wrong. The issue is not whether it is a compoundable offence or crime.
“It is whether the government will demonstrate its political will to lead by example or continue to allow top government figures breaching the SOP with minimal fine.
“It simply shows that the PM is not serious in ensuring his members in government’s adherence to the government’s restrictions and effort in combating Covid-19,” he said in a statement this afternoon.
Wong was responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s remark earlier today in defence of Hishammuddin.
Ismail Sabri insisted that the violation of the SOP by the senior defence minister is not a crime.
Wong noted that it was not the first time a high-ranking government official was in violation of the SOPs.
He cited several high-profile breaches that took place in 2020, including by then deputy health minister Dr Noor Azmi, Perak state executive councillor Razman Zakari, and then plantation, industries and commodities minster Mohd Khairuddin Razali who was widely reported to have violated the mandated quarantine after returning from a trip abroad during the pandemic.
In Hishammuddin’s case, Wong said the senior minister should have led by example as he is responsible for drafting, finalising and issuing the Covid-19 SOPs.
“He was supposed to demonstrate to the people what can be done and what not. Yet, he has chosen to ignore it.
“The government had sought, with its multiple efforts, to get the amendment to Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act passed with a heavily increased penalty, in the name of ensuring SOPs are not breached.
“It doesn’t serve any purpose at all if the government top figures are just glaringly ignorant of the law and regulations. Any amount of fine doesn’t affect them,” Wong added.
Wong’s DAP colleague, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh criticised Hishammuddin earlier today and said the fine imposed by the Health Ministry under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 was insufficient.
Yeoh said Hishammuddin was in a position of authority that accorded him special officers who could head to the venue ahead and ensure proper physical distancing measures so he would not be caught in violation of the SOP.
Yeoh added that this was not Hishammuddin’s first time caught breaking government imposed rules. She noted he was flagrantly vaping in Parliament after the health minister had declared war on smoking.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced yesterday that Hishammuddin, MIC president Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran and caretaker Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohamed will be issued compound notices for breaching Covid-19 regulations during the Johor MIC Brigade launch in Iskandar Puteri that all three attended in the run-up to the March 12 state election.