Ex-law minister says MCO may have no legal basis

A former minister questions how social distancing can be enforced as there is no law on it.

PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Liew Vui Keong has questioned the validity of the movement control order after he said he was unable to find Covid-19 listed as a scheduled infectious disease.

Liew said that his research into the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act showed that it was “very unclear” whether the government had defined Covid-19 as an infectious disease in the schedule.

“I think it (MCO) is illegal and this is something which I want to bring to the courts to ask them to determine whether it is valid,” he said in an online forum hosted by Pakatan Harapan tonight.

“I have checked on the website of the Attorney-General’s Chambers whether they have gazetted it (Covid-19) and I don’t think they have. If Covid-19 is not part of the schedule, how can you use that as a reason to stop us from meeting in Parliament? This government has a lot to answer for,” he said.

Last month, the Dewan Rakyat secretary had written to MPs to say that the House would convene for only one day on May 18 because of the MCO, in force since March 18 to stem the spread of Covid-19. The order, which restricts public gatherings and calls for other measures such as social distancing, has been extended in phases until June 9.

Liew Vui Keong, former minister for law.

Liew also expressed concern about the governemnt’s requirement that people practice social distancing (keeping at least one metre away from each other). He said it could not be enforced as there are no laws to define the requirement.

“I want to wake up our new law minister. Wake up, wake up! Look at Singapore. They have already passed a law to define what is social distancing,” said Liew.

“If there are no laws to say what is social distancing in Malaysia, how can you ask the police to arrest people for not complying with this social distancing order? You can’t do that.”

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