Health Ministry’s quarantine release order was issued two days ahead of the end of the 14-day quarantine.
Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) sparked an uproar in the Dewan Rakyat today when he alleged that the member for Keningau, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, had breached the Covid-19 quarantine order by attending the sitting.
Azis claimed that Jeffrey attended the Sabah State Legislative Assembly sitting on Nov 12 and his presence in Parliament today meant that he did not complete the 14-day quarantine for those coming from Sabah.
Kitingan had attended the opening of the Sabah state assembly together with Barisan Nasional’s Bung Mokhtar Radin on November 12.
“He was quarantined from November 12 and has tested negative for Covid-19. His wristband was cut today,” Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said after Kitingan had appeared briefly in Dewan Rakyat around noon.
When questioned by Azis on how Kitingan managed to clear a 14-day quarantine in 11 days, Azhar said: “I’m only following the release order from the Ministry of Health.
“I cannot question this,” said the speaker as MPs vociferously pointed out it was Parliament that imposed this 14-day quarantine on Sabah MPs coming to the peninsula.
“But I have asked him to stay away for now,” said Azhar.
The controversy had erupted while Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said was chairing the second-day winding-up session, when Azis stood up to raise the issue.
“I have been staying in Kuala Lumpur for almost two months; I could not meet my children and wife because if I go back there, I need to be quarantined for 14 days (on my return here). Going by the dates, Keningau (Jeffrey) should not be in this House.
“We (MPs) who are from Sabah abide by the Speaker’s directive on the standing orders, that we have to be quarantined in the peninsula for 14 days,” Azis said during the budget winding-up session.
He was then followed by several other MPs from the opposition bloc who presented their views.
Azalina said she could not give an answer and instructed the Dewan Rakyat secretary to get a confirmation on the matter, telling the opposition MPs to wait for a while.
Dr Kelvin Yii (PH-Bandar Kuching) then asked Azalina to consider asking Jeffrey to leave the house momentarily while waiting for the confirmation, saying this was just “to be safe”.
Azalina said she could not do that and asked the MPs to wait for confirmation.
Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) then asked the deputy speaker why she could not get Jeffrey to confirm whether he had completed the quarantine period since he was in the Dewan.
“If Keningau says he has already been quarantined, we’ll be satisfied,” she said.
Azalina then received confirmation from the Dewan Rakyat secretary, who presented a note from the Parliament doctor that Jeffrey had received a “release order” from the health ministry “after finishing quarantine”.
This prompted one MP to question if it was a case of double standard, to which Azis then said other Sabah MPs had made sacrifices by staying in the peninsula for the past two months without returning home.
Azalina later clarified to say Kitingan had received a “relief order” but did not elaborate.
“My aunt passed away last week, but I wasn’t allowed to go back. We have sacrificed nearly two months. If not, it would have been better for me to go back to Sabah to mourn (the death of) my aunt. But what we see here is that Keningau is allowed to enter the Dewan.”
Azalina then urged all dissatisfied MPs to seek an explanation with Azhar.
“I received an official answer from the Dewan Rakyat secretary. If Yang Berhormat are not satisfied with the result given by the Parliament Health Clinic and the release order from the Health Ministry, you can bring this matter to the Speaker,” Azalina said.
Despite being in the House during the back and forth, Kitingan did not arise to offer any explanation.
Contacted by Malaysiakini, Kitingan shared a copy of his home quarantine release form.
Dated Nov 23, the Health Ministry said he was previously identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case and was initially placed under a home surveillance order from Nov 12 to Nov 25.
“Following the assessment carried out by our ministry, your health status was found to be satisfactory. Therefore, you are given clearance from undergoing supervision and observation […] starting from the date mentioned below (Nov 23),” it said.
The form was signed by a health officer from the Lembah Pantai health department.
Meanwhile, Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin has submitted a motion to refer Kitingan to Parliament’s Rights and Privileges committee.
The motion to refer the Keningau MP was sent to Azhar today after the Sabah lawmaker, who appeared in the Dewan today, had broken a Parliament instruction to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon coming to the peninsula from Sabah.
On October 9, Parliament Secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin told Sabah MPs that they had to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival from Sabah before they could attend Dewan Rakyat sessions.
“This action (of attending Dewan Rakyat) has contravened the Dewan Rakyat Secretary’s instruction on October 9 that required all Sabah MPs to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entering Peninsular Malaysia.
“Parliament should look into this matter seriously as he has attended Dewan Rakyat without going through the 14-day quarantine and has exposed all MPs to Covid-19,” said the DAP Sabah secretary.