The Malaysian minister who broke quarantine after returning from Turkey was called to the police headquarters today to provide a statement.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali is being investigated by police for violating the mandatory two-week home quarantine and is expected to arrive at Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Aman today. The 46-year-old drew criticism last week for getting away with a light punishment of a fine worth RM1,000 (US$230), while others have been jailed.
The minister reportedly flew to Turkey with his family to meet with investors. They were subsequently ordered to quarantine at home upon returning to Malaysia on July 7, but Khairudin left his home six days later to attend a parliament sitting. He was fined Aug 7 and has reportedly paid it.
Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah told reporters yesterday that the Health Ministry was not aware that Khairudin had broken quarantine until recently, adding that he will not revise the fine imposed on Khairuddin but would leave that to the police to decide.
Noor Hisham also proposed to revise the minimum penalty for violating COVID-19 measures to a fine of RM10,000 – ten times more than the original amount – citing the outdated law.
“The [Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases] Act was drafted in 1988. RM1,000 was reasonable back then, and we need to revise the amount now. I will leave it to the parliamentarians to decide,” he told reporters yesterday.
This drew criticism as well since regular folks will not be able to afford that amount.
“Huh? This is crazy. RM1,000 is already a high amount for regular folks, if it is revised to RM10,000, the prisons will be full. Why not do this…. enforce existing laws equally on offenders, it doesn’t matter if they’re ministers, VVIPs or regular Malaysians,” @EddyDaud wrote.
“Dear Ministry of Health, regular Malaysians don’t even have RM10,000 in savings. Please reconsider the compound,” said @Namn78 on Twitter.
Over the weekend, former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq called out the inconsistent penalties handed out to Khairuddin and other citizens for violating quarantine. While the minister got away with a RM1,000 fine, others have been fined and thrown to prison.
An elderly woman was on Aug 14 sentenced to a day in jail and a RM8,000 fine after she was caught eating while on quarantine.
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This article, Police summon minister who broke quarantine as Health Ministry mulls RM10K fines, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!