Just before Christmas last year, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong went to the United Arab Emirates. When he returned, he went into quarantine, after having Covid-19 checks both in Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur.
His entire entourage was put under quarantine, too.
Now, two months later, health minister Dr Adham Baba has left the country incredulous – again. He has decided that ministers do not need quarantine, when no less than the King himself had to be in isolation.
Just three days of “observation” will do, says Adham. And he has left everyone fuming.
Remember the time when he produced his simplistic “drink warm water” advice to fight Covid-19 in his first month of office last year? That did not go down well on social media and invited scorn from global media.
The netizens are again pouring cold water over his latest move. He has angered most Malaysians except probably ministers and hardcore supporters of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government by signing a new order under the emergency ordinance.
This regulation, which smacks of double standards and completely defies logic and sensibility, does away with the mandatory 10-day quarantine order for ministers returning from official duties abroad.
It’s a no-brainer that this decision must have been either made by the Cabinet or the prime minister. Obviously, this was a case of Adham being damned if he did and damned if he didn’t, as the position he holds is with compliments from Muhyiddin Yassin.
The netizens are absolutely livid. And rightly too. The double standards are only too obvious. Malaysians are being arrested – yes, arrested – for simple offences like gambling at home, stepping out of their homes, taking a walk, wearing their face masks wrongly or gathering in the compounds of their own houses.
And ministers can gallivant around the world with no care? That hurts for most, especially the thousands who have been forking out the RM1,000 fines for petty offences.
We have already seen many ministers and other politicians shamelessly and unapologetically going about with utter disregard for social distancing or facemasks, when they could have avoided these gatherings.
Malaysians are sick, tired and mad over this.
Most Malaysians have not forgotten the inconsiderate action of plantation industries and commodities minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali who broke the 14-day home quarantine rule upon his return from Turkey during Malaysia’s recovery movement control order last July.
Attorney-general Idrus Harun told us there was insufficient evidence despite a police investigation. Khairuddin was given a slap on the wrist – a RM1,000 fine, while some ordinary Malaysians have been jailed or paid heavier fines.
Last month, we saw human resources minister M Saravanan being given special treatment when he was allowed to go to Batu Caves to perform his Thaipusam prayers when millions of other Hindus were told to stay at home.
A week ago, we had an entourage following Muhyiddin when he jetted off for an official visit to Jakarta for what appears to be a meeting that could have been done online. Or it could have waited, based on news reports of this visit.
Yesterday, a viral video clip showed foreign minister Hishamuddin Hussein arriving in Abu Dhabi with officials for an official visit.
Question: What makes this breed of ministers so special? Are they impervious to the Covid-19 virus?
Many sane Malaysians are wondering what was in Adham’s mind when he signed the gazette.
It’s mind-boggling, ridiculous and smacks of a self-centred government, and policies of “antara dua darjat (two classes society)”.
Could we be wrong to conclude that this new rule was to facilitate the prime minister returning to work three days after returning from his Jakarta sojourn?
Or a ploy to allow ministers to go abroad on official visits or holidays while we ordinary citizens can’t even leave our homes for reunion dinner with the family?
Come on Abah, surely you and your cabinet can do better than this. Your infamous “jangan ke sana, ke sini (Don’t go here and there)” still rings loud in our ears.
Will you please listen to yourself?