World

Malaysia minister escapes charges despite breaking quarantine

KUALA LUMPUR The Malaysian government is allowing a Cabinet minister to walk away without being punished for flouting mandatory quarantine procedures after returning from a trip to Turkey in July.

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has decided that "No Further Action" (NFA) will be taken against Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali for breaking the home quarantine rule, police said yesterday.

"We have been instructed to inform about the outcome of the case. The instructions are to NFA the case due to the fact that the minister was not handed the 14B form to undergo quarantine," said Commissioner Huzir Mohamed, head of the criminal investigation department at Malaysian police headquarters.

He said the decision was made as no "concrete statement" was given that could be used to charge the minister.

When asked if the Health Ministry did not issue the form to the minister, Mr Huzir said "yes".

The police had submitted their investigation papers to the AGC last month, after having recorded the statements of more than 10 people in connection with the case.

Mr Khairuddin's violation of the mandatory 14-day quarantine came to light when it was raised in Parliament in August by an opposition MP.

He had returned from what he described as a "semi-working trip" to that country, which included family members, on July 7.

After the issue was brought to light, the Health Ministry said it had slapped Mr Khairuddin with a RM1,000 (S$330) fine on Aug 7 for breaching the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

Mr Khairuddin has said he would forgo his salary from May to August as an act of remorse.

In a statement, where he apologised to all Malaysians, he said he would donate the money to the national Covid-19 fund under the Health Ministry.

But many Malaysians still insisted he should resign, noting that members of the public found guilty of the same breach were jailed and slapped with heftier fines.

Malaysia recorded 732 new infections yesterday - a slight reduction after the country saw cases hitting above the 800 mark for the past four days - raising the total to 22,957.

It also reported six deaths, taking the toll to 199. - THE STAR

WORLD