Looking into the strange case of Dr Khairuddin

Looking into the strange case of Dr Khairuddin

Ever since air traffic into Malaysia has been allowed again, the Government has decided that all individuals entering Malaysia from abroad will be subjected to compulsory quarantine orders under the Observation & Surveillance Order subject to the provisions of Section 15 (1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

Section 15 (1) of Act 342 here says that “An authorized officer may order any contact to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or to undergo surveillance until he may be discharged without danger to the public”. Administrative terminology refers to those who are subject to quarantine orders as Person Under Surveillance (PUS).

The question is: do you only become a PUS if an authorized officer literally ‘orders’ you to undergo quarantine?

According to Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Huzir Mohamed, since Dr Khairuddin was not handed a Form 14B, it follows that since he has not been “ordered” by an authorized officer to undergo compulsory quarantine, he is not a PUS, and therefore has not broken any of the rules under Section 15 (1) of Act 342. 

If so, remember how Dr Khairuddin was issued a RM1,000 compound for ‘failing to abide by the rules under Act 342’? What rules did he break? Why was he issued a compound if he did not break any of the rules? 

It has been made clear in multiple government circulars that ALL incoming individuals entering Malaysia from abroad is a PUS (unless otherwise exempted), and must be subjected to compulsory quarantine orders. You do not only become a PUS upon being given a copy of Form 14B; you become one when you enter, or re-enter Malaysia from abroad. If Dr Khairuddin falls under any exemption from compulsory quarantine, the authorities must be able to point out which. 

Otherwise, this sets a dangerous precedent where any PUS the authorities forgot to issue Form 14B to can breach quarantine without consequences.

Moreover, classifying the case as NFA will not be the end. Unlike in Lim Guan Eng’s cases, where he was acquitted after being charged (thereby closing the case forever), Dr Khairuddin has not been charged yet.  Under Article 145(3) of the Constitution the power to institute criminal prosecution is vested with the Public Prosecutor, not the police. Therefore, a complainant can still appeal to the AGC against the decision to NFA.

As of the August 23rd, 27 police reports have been made against Dr Mohd Khairuddin. Appeals against the decision for NFA can still be made to the Prosecution Division of the AGC, either through the State level or directly to the AGC’s head office in Putrajaya.

We cannot jail the common rakyat for breaching quarantine while Ministers get off due to ‘technical errors’. There can be no ‘dua darjat’ for we all are equal before the law.

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