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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Health DG declines to answer why minister was fined for quarantine breach

 


The flip-flop of law enforcement in the case of cabinet minister Khairuddin Aman Razali, who failed to quarantine himself after returning from Turkey in July, remains unexplained.

On Aug 22, the Health Ministry issued a statement saying that the plantation industries and commodities minister had been issued with a RM1,000 compound on Aug 7 after they found him of having breached quarantine rules.

The Kuala Nerus MP was said to have paid the fine, and he had also apologised on top of making a vow to donate his ministerial salary from May to August to the country's Covid-19 fund.

This was four days after Seputeh MP Teresa Kok raised the matter in Parliament. However, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had told the media then that Khairuddin's case was still being probed by the police.

After about two months of investigation, things took another turn when Bukit Aman announced that the Attorney-General's Chambers had decided not to take action against the minister, saying that Khairuddin was not provided with the 14B form to undergo quarantine upon his return on July 7.

Today, Malaysiakini attempted to get some answers from the Health Ministry on what had happened in this case since they had earlier confirmed that Khairuddin had breached quarantine and penalised him for the offence.

However, Noor Hisham, when posed with a question on why the Health Ministry issued a compound against Khairuddin and whether it would be reversed since the Attorney-General's Chambers had found that there was no offence committed, declined to comment on the matter.

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

"Under Act 342, The Health Ministry has been given the power to enforce (the act) by the police and the AG. This case has been investigated by the police and the AG.

"So I do not want to comment any further on the probe," he told a press conference at Putrajaya this evening.

Noor Hisham was referring to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

He also did not answer whether the ministry is pursuing an internal investigation over the failure to issue Khairuddin with the quarantine order upon arrival.

The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations (Number 7) 2020, among others, require overseas returnees to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

All returnees must also undergo a swab test for Covid-19 and be subsequently sent to a quarantine centre to carry out the 14-day isolation period.

Prior to July 24, overseas returnees who tested negative would still have to undergo quarantine but were allowed to do so at home.

They were not allowed to leave home for 14 days and must be retested on the 13th day before their quarantine bracelet can be removed. Khairuddin allegedly did not undergo this process.

From July 24 onwards, quarantine must be done at government-designated centres. The measure was reintroduced after many violated their quarantine conditions at home.

Khairuddin's case had received national attention amid complaints that regular Malaysians are treated more harshly than VIPs. - Mkini

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