Mahathir apologises for flouting COVID-19 rules

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday apologised for flouting COVID-19 regulations during a Hari Raya charity event over the weekend.

In a Facebook post Dr Mahathir said he had travelled back to Langkawi on May 8 to fulfil several Ramadhan and Aidilfitri donation programmes in his parliamentary area.

Among the events was an aid distribution activity for residents at Surau Tsunami Batu Arang in Kuala Teriang, Kuah.

“I was informed that at the event, I violated the standard operating procedures (SOP) by not taking body temperature when entering the surau. This was a mistake. This shouldn’t happen. I’m sorry for not complying with the SOP,” he said.

The Langkawi Member of Parliament added that he will accept any action in accordance with the law.

He said COVID-19 is a “serious outbreak” and that everyone should obey the standard operating procedures. “Once again, I apologise for flouting the regulations,” he added. Last week, another former Malaysia prime minister was slapped with a MYR3,000 fine for breaking COVID-19 rules at a restaurant.

Najib Razak had failed to register at the eatery or have his temperature taken, said the police. The restaurant owner was also fined MYR10,000 for failing to ensure that Najib followed the rules.

“Myself and the man on the street will be investigated by the police and fined by the government. But I don’t know if this will happen if ministers contravene the rules,” he said on Facebook.

Malaysian authorities have come under fire in recent months for what many have criticised as inconsistent or ineffective application of regulations to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Comparisons have been made between a MYR50,000 fine doled out to two food stall owners in Kelantan for operating beyond permitted hours, and a MYR60,000 penalty shared by Malaysian celebrity for interstate-travel and lack of social distancing during a wedding reception.

Malaysia’s latest national lockdown, which was announced on Monday evening, also added to public confusion.

The capital Kuala Lumpur and three districts in Johor were added to the movement control order (MCO) list less than a week ago.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the aid distribution activity. PHOTO: CNA