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Barisan Nasional fined RM10,000 for breaching Malaysia’s COVID-19 rules at KL political event

Barisan Nasional fined RM10,000 for breaching Malaysia’s COVID-19 rules at KL political event

Barisan Nasional launching its machinery for the Melaka state election on Oct 27, 2021. (Photo: Facebook/Barisan Nasional)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s key political coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) was slapped with a compound of RM10,000 (US$2,400) by the Health Ministry for holding an event at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) on Wednesday (Oct 27).

National agency Bernama reported that the fine, issued by the Kepong Health Office, was for violating the standard operating procedures (SOP) of Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

In a post on its social media platform, the Health Ministry said the compound under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act was issued following a social event held at the WTCKL.

It also uploaded a photo of the notice addressed to BN executive secretary Mohamad Sahfri Ab Aziz, which stated that the coalition had committed an offence under Regulation 16(1) of the Act for failing to observe physical distancing.

The notice stated that the compound offer would last until Nov 9.

BN is a coalition of four political parties, including United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which forms the current government with Perikatan Nasional. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is from UMNO. 

WTCKL houses UMNO’s headquarters. 

According to Bernama, BN had allegedly violated the SOP during the launch of its machinery for the Melaka state election at WTCKL.

It was attended by BN’s chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy chairman Mohamad Hasan as well as former prime minister and BN chairman Najib Razak.

According to the SOPs for Phase Four of the NRP, which were updated by the National Security Council on Oct 22, events in halls or outdoors are allowed with 50 per cent attendance capacity while physical distancing is a must.

Malaysiakini reported that the event at the WTCKL was believed to be attended by at least several hundred BN leaders and members.  

On Sunday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin issued a ban on any activities, gatherings and social events related to the Melaka election between Oct 25 and Nov 27.

He said that the prohibition of all activities, gatherings or social meetings related to political campaigning for the Melaka polls is to prevent the COVID-19 infection rate from surging again.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, de facto law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that the ban on political gatherings during the campaigning for the election will be imposed equally on all parties.

He also said the Cabinet will discuss ways to prevent the ministers from using official events as a ruse to campaign.

The Election Commission has set Nov 8 as the nomination day for the Melaka state election and Nov 20 for polling.

The election was called after the collapse of the UMNO-led Melaka government following the decision by four state assemblymen to withdraw their support for chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali. 

EVENT FOLLOWED SOP, BN WILL STILL PAY FINE: BN SECRETARY-GENERAL 

In response, BN secretary-general Zambry Abd Kadir said the event at WTCKL was held in adherence with COVID-19 SOPs, but as a party that "holds on the rule of law", BN will pay the compound. 

In a statement, Mr Zambry said that the election machinery launch was supposed to have taken place in Melaka. 

But it was moved to WTCKL as the Health Ministry had advised against organising mass gatherings in the state, said Mr Zambry as quoted by the Star. 

He said WTCKL was chosen because Kuala Lumpur has entered Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan, which allows mass gatherings with a 50 per cent crowd limit in public halls.

"For your information, invitations for the launch at both the Tun Hussein and Tun Ismail halls in WTC were distributed after taking into account that SOP on capacity,” he said. 

He added that movements outside of its venues in WTCKL were beyond BN’s control.

"Nevertheless, as a party that holds on to the rule of law, Barisan will pay the compound notices," Mr Zambry was quoted as saying.

 

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Source: AGENCIES/ih(tx)

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