Dragging lorry drivers into the Khairuddin quarantine fiasco does not exonerate him
In the ongoing “Khairuddin quarantine fiasco”, who would you trust, and who has more dignity? Who do you think has a responsible and demanding job? The Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Khairuddin Aman Razali, or the lorry drivers?
Without the lorry drivers, the vegetable farmers will not be able to feed the rakyat and the economy might suffer.
Without people like Khairuddin, the economy would probably flourish.
Lorry drivers perform a vital role keeping our economy alive. They must adhere to strict rules, and when transporting vegetables to Singapore, have to observe the conditions imposed on them, by the relevant authorities on both sides of the causeway.
Lorry drivers are aware that they have much to lose if they violate the laws. They know that if they slip-up, their health, the health of the people they contact, may be at risk. They have an immense responsibility to shoulder.
The same cannot be said about Minister Khairuddin, or many of his peers.
Khairuddin and some members of the Cabinet fail to realise that when a wrong is committed, it is best to own-up, and not hide the truth. Trying to justify Khairuddin’s failure to observe the strict quarantine rules has only exacerbated the problem.
On 18 August, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok told parliament that Khairuddin had travelled to Turkey, with his family, and on their return, had ignored the government requirement for everyone returning from overseas to quarantine for 14 days.
The government machinery was thrown into confusion as a lot of issues, many political, hinge on his recalcitrance and the alleged cover-up.
Ordinary people have been prosecuted and charged. Many were fined and jailed, and yet a minister was allowed to breach the rules.
Malaysians expressed their anger on social media and for several days, Muhyiddin Yassin remained quiet.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) claimed that it was investigating Khairuddin’s breach, but on 23 August the MoH claimed that Khairuddin had paid a compound fine on 7 August. So, why was this fact not mentioned by Khairuddin, earlier? Most Malaysians feel that this sudden claim smacks of political interference, and dissimulation (LYING).
When Malaysians demanded Khairuddin’s resignation, Muhyiddin issued a statement and said that he would leave it to the authorities to investigate Khairuddin. This further enraged the public because Muhyiddin was merely passing the buck and was reluctant to insist upon Khairuddin’s resignation.
Khairuddin attended parliament, attended several public functions and visited the palace. He put other people’s health at risk, including Muhyiddin who claims to have been suffering from “pancreatic cancer” for many months.
Most members of the public have by and large, observed the strict quarantine rules, but Ministers who violate the law, get away with their wrongdoing. Two sets of rules exist. One for the elite and another for the rakyat. Muhyiddin showed that some are more equal than others in Malaysia. He has failed the rakyat.
The compound fine allegedly issued to Khairuddin was a measly RM1,000 whereas others have been fined greater sums and also jailed for risking other peoples’ health. Were members of his family also fined?
If Muhyiddin had acted with firmness, he would have saved his face, and the reputation of his administration by quashing any talk of double standards being practised.
To add insult to injury, the PAS vice-president, who is also the Minister for the Environment, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said that the rakyat should not get too worked up because there was no evidence of a Khairuddin cluster.
His words sparked more fury because he appeared not to understand that a wrong has been committed.
Perhaps Tuan Ibrahim should urge the authorities to return the fines paid by the people who failed to observe the quarantine. Perhaps, those who were jailed, should claim compensation from the government for subjecting them to discomfort and shame.
After this fiasco boiled over, Baling MP, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim claimed that Khairuddin returned from Turkey with RM82 billion of investment. Is this just another fairy tale to appease the rakyat?
When the rakyat didn’t believe any of Khairuddin’s many excuses, he said he would donate four (4) months wages to the National Disaster Relief Fund.
How will he and his family survive? Does he have a source of illicit income? This donation reminds us of the felon, Najib Abdul Razak’s mantra, “Cash is king” – giving money to quieten us.
Malaysia received high praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for its ability to effectively contain the threat of Coronavirus.
If people had violated the rules, the good work of the Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, would have been wasted.
Tuan Ibrahim dug himself a bigger hole, when he tried to justify Khairuddin’s failure to quarantine, by comparing his peer’s actions to the lorry drivers who transport vegetables to Singapore.
This sparked a furious reaction from the Johore Association of Lorry Drivers.
Perhaps, Tuan Ibrahim should tell Khairuddin to become a lorry driver and realise that a person without integrity and willingness to work hard, cannot survive.
Leadership should be by example, but PAS ministers are arrogant and appear to have egos that they cannot control.