Human rights groups are livid that ordinary tax-paying citizens are being jailed for violating the movement control order (MCO), while cabinet members and their deputies face no consequences.
Ministers and deputy ministers have been outed on social media in recent weeks for violating the MCO and not observing social distancing at events.
Among them was Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali, whose Facebook post went viral after he posted pictures of himself enjoying a meal with about 30 people, including students at a Tahfiz school in Lenggong, Perak.
Last Friday, pictures of Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar also went viral after he was seen visiting state Umno chief Ahmad Said at the latter’s house.
Civil society group, Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (Edict), in a press statement attacked the government for its silence over ministers flouting the MCO.
“Edict shares the exasperation of the public over the outrages committed by the government during the MCO, which began on March 18.
“The cases of offenders being fined and jailed now run into the thousands. Yet, no action has been taken against the ministers and deputy ministers,” Edict said in a press statement.
“The government – without the approval of Parliament – has in effect decided that the punishment for violation of the MCO is imprisonment – although the law provides alternative punishments.
“We call upon members of the government, from the prime minister down, to lead by example and offer themselves to the police for arrest, handcuff, remand, and subsequent prosecution.
“We call upon the A-G to explain his silence,” the press statement read.
Last week, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 9,090 people had been arrested for MCO violations from March 18 till April 13.
According to the minister, at least 427 had been charged in court.
He revealed today, 1,111 people were arrested the previous day for flouting the MCO.
He also said that Putrajaya was not according preferential treatment to the offending VIPs, adding that the police would be questioning ministers concerned and taking necessary action
“It’s not right to allege there are two different treatments for those who break the MCO,” he said.
However, civil groups are not convinced until action is taken against these VIP offenders.
“The fact that they haven’t been arrested and charged, unlike the many Malaysians who have flouted the MCO, points to a very disturbing set of double standards…one for those in power and the other for the regular tax-paying citizens,” said Cynthia Gabriel, executive director of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).
“In countries like Scotland, you have top officials resigning from their posts as a sign of responsibility and accountability to their people.
“But here the rule makers are also the rule-breakers, so where is the leadership by example?” she said.
Meanwhile, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) pointed out that Malaysians were being treated with harsh measures for leaving their homes, while a deputy minister was openly breaching all social distancing rules and regulations.
“With the government’s recent track record of strong-arming obedience, it is up to the government to take immediate action or risk exposing its own folly in imposing excessive restrictions or its hypocrisy in letting VIP violate MCO as they please,” said the human rights group.
Malaysians are currently undergoing the third phase of MCO after the government extended the deadline from April 14 to April 28. – TMI