PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has defended Attorney-General Idrus Harun’s decision to refuse to prosecute Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali for flouting Covid-19 SOPs, saying he had made the decision based on law and evidence.
N Sivananthan said the prosecution must prove the ingredients of the charge or else the accused would be acquitted without his defence being called.
“It is the duty of the prosecution to ensure they have a prima facie case or else it is a waste of time and resources.
“This case has attracted public attention but the AG is doomed to fail in court based on evidence and the law,” Sivananthan told FMT, adding that Idrus could not pander to public sentiment.
Yesterday, Idrus said Khairuddin was not issued a home surveillance order by the health ministry officer at the airport upon his arrival from Turkey on July 7.
“For an act to be considered as an offence of breaking a home quarantine order under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, the home surveillance or observation order is required to be issued to the minister,” Idrus said.
However, lawyer Baljit Sidhu said the reason for the non-prosecution of the minister based on Khairuddin not being issued the form for undergoing quarantine was only a procedural issue, and not a substantive matter.
“Everyone knows that one must be quarantined for two weeks upon returning from overseas,” he said, adding that Khairuddin must have been well aware of the procedure.
Other lawyers FMT spoke to questioned the authorities’ enforcement of the law against different individuals.
They said the by-law made pursuant to Section 15(1) of Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act clearly states that anyone entering the country needs to undergo health examination and be placed under home quarantine for the next 14 days.
Under Regulation 8(2) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020, the person placed under quarantine must wear a wristband as required by the authorised officer.
“The law must be enforced equally across the board. How is it fair when the minister is exempted from the home surveillance order while others are not?” lawyer Rafique Rashid Ali asked.
He said this issue also opens up a “can of worms” on the quarantine cases that have already been disposed of in courts.
“From the AG’s logic, these people cannot be charged if they do not have the home quarantine form (Form 14b),” Rafique said.
Fahmi Abd Moin concurred with Rafique, saying those who were convicted may now raise questions about their cases.
“They may want to seek reviews. We don’t know whether they were given Form 14b upon arrival but still faced charges for having gone out during their quarantine,” he said.
Fahmi noted that the announcement to put Khairuddin’s case under “no further action” (NFA) came after investigations papers were submitted for several times over three months.
“For the AG to now say Khairuddin was not given the form and thus did not breach any quarantine order is perplexing. As a public officer, the minister himself cannot plead ignorance by saying he doesn’t know the law,” he said.
Khairuddin’s predecessor, Teresa Kok, who first raised the issue of his quarantine breach in Parliament, said the decision not to take any action against him shows a double standard being practised by the government.
Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi also chimed in, saying the public now perceived Perikatan Nasional (PN) as practising “selective” enforcement.
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