Probe Zuraida’s “fun ride” flag-off for SOP violation

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Two lawyers and an MP have asked the authorities to conduct an independent probe into housing and local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s alleged movement control order (MCO) violation involving a fun ride event.

They say the enforcement of MCO regulations must be equally applied to everyone, after netizens flayed the Ampang MP for taking part in a prohibited activity under the current order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A Facebook post yesterday showed her flagging off what seemed to be a bicycle “fun ride” at Kiara Hills, Kuala Lumpur.

Facebook

Ironically, Zuraida had said the programme was among the government’s efforts to provide the public with “information on managing the pandemic and the practice of new norms”.

According to the National Security Council (MKN), all activities involving large gatherings, which make it difficult to practise physical distancing, are not allowed.

This includes “fun runs, fun rides, marathons, triathlons and others”.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said it was unclear what could be considered a “fun ride” based on MKN’s standards, and whether Zuraida’s event had actually gone against standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“There is no proper dissemination of information about what categories of social events we can organise or what the exact limits are. Everyone is confused,” he said.

Given that the government had often urged the public to stay at home unless it was necessary, Rafique said there were still “double standards” at play.

“We have ministers who are openly talking about attending these events and posting it on social media, which irks a lot of people.

“For ‘normal Malaysians’, the police would be knocking on their doors,” Rafique said.

He also questioned if those who attended the event were liable to the RM10,000 fine for violating the SOPs, as the photos that accompanied the Facebook post had shown several individuals without face masks.

Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii expressed concern over the “double standards” regarding enforcement of SOPs, especially where Perikatan Nasional ministers were involved.

“While we see hundreds of people being fined up to RM10,000 for alleged SOP violations, we barely see any action taken against these VVIPs, even when glaring evidence is available,” he told FMT.

Although Yii encouraged the public to participate in activities that promoted a healthy lifestyle, he said there was no need to hold a large-scale event that risked another Covid-19 cluster breakout.

Zulazhar Sheblee/The Star

“Such SOPs are there for the general good and public health interventions cannot be interpreted at the whims and fancies of those in power as the virus does not differentiate,” said Yii.

He added that it was important for the authorities to investigate the matter to boost the public’s confidence in the system and ensure everyone complied with the SOPs.

Lawyer A Srimurugan said the fact that such an event had taken place was a result of the government’s failure to establish “clear and precise guidelines on what is allowed and what is not”.

Srimurugan added that it was unfair to punish the public when ministers themselves supposedly did not comply with the SOPs.

“In fact, a higher degree of accountability is expected from them. The law must be enforced equally, even for ministers,” he said. – FMT