Is Muhyiddin such a weak Prime Minister that he cannot or dare not impose discipline on his own Cabinet as his Ministers have no qualm in ignoring or defying him?

The silence of the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been thunderous.

The scandal of the Cabinet Minister who defied the Covid-19 SOP by not undergoing the stipulated 14-day quarantine SOP after returning from a five-day trip to Turkey in early July raises the question whether Muhyiddin is such a weak Prime Minister that he cannot or dare not impose discipline on his own Cabinet as his Ministers have no qualm in ignoring or defying him.

Four days have passed since the DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok raised in Parliament the case of a Cabinet Minister who visited Turkey for five days and returned without undergoing the stipulated 14-day quarantine.

The attitude of the defaulting Minister is akin to the posture struck by a former Prime Minister – “Malu Apa Bossku”!

There was no denial of breach of the Covid-19 SOP by the defaulting Minister in the past four days.

He does not seem to care that he is damaging the anti-Covid-19 efforts of the campaign of the frontliners led by the Health Director-General, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah - for which Noor Hisham was rightly conferred the “Tan Sri”ship - or that he is setting a bad example to the young generation of Malaysians by abusing his powers and indifference to what is morally right and wrong.

He also makes a mockery of the daily press conference of the Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob on the number of individuals detained and penalized for violating the Covid-19 SOP, for it has now become a daily reminder of the injustices under the present government where ordinary Malaysians must obey the law but not the Ministers and VIPs.

On Thursday, the defaulting Minister said: Wait for the Health Ministry statement.

Although the Deputy Health Minister said yesterday that there will be no double standard when it comes to punishing those who flout the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP), including top government officials, there was only silence from his “air suam” Minister.

It is not surprising that the Health Minister has decided not to drink the poisoned chalice and to pass the buck to the Prime Minister himself!

But dare the Prime Minister discipline his own Ministers?

Hence the test whether Malaysia has the weakest Prime Minister in history who cannot or dare not impose discipline on his own Cabinet with his Ministers having no qualm in ignoring or defying him!

Now the defaulting Minister is exculpating himself, not realising that he is barking up the wrong tree.

He claimed that the fact that he was allowed entry into the Palace on August 17 proved that he tested negative for Covid 19, demonstrating his ignorance or incomprehension over the crux of the scandal – that on his return from Turkey on July 7, he and members of his family did not undergo the 14-day quarantine from July 7 to 21 as required by the Covid-19 SOP.

This episode also raised questions about his ability to distinguish what is morally right from wrong and his fitness to be a Cabinet Minister.

Clearly, the defaulting Minister would not have appreciated the following events:

  1. The resignation yesterday of the Irish agriculture minister Dara Calleary over his breach of Covid-19 regulations. Dara Calleary was among more than 80 guests at a hotel dinner hosted by the Irish parliament’s golf society, the night after he and his cabinet colleagues significantly tightened nationwide restrictions to try to curb a spike in infections.
  2. On July 3, New Zealand’s Health Minister, David Clarke, resigned over his own breaches of Covid-19 lockdown rules.
  3. In early July, Ghana's deputy trade minister Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah resigned following his visit to the electoral registration office without completing his self-isolation period.
  4. In June, Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich resigned amid criticism from civil organisations and opposition figures for his management of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.
  5. In May UK's Scotland office minister Douglas Ross resigned protesting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's refusal to remove his chief advisor Dominic Cummings on charge of breaching lockdown rules.
  6. On May 4, Bahamas Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands resigned after breaching Covid-19 protocols.

Was the defaulting Minister responsible for the triple lies when he claimed to have Muhyiddin’s approval for the trip to Turkey, that he had undergone a “special test” specially designed for Ministers, Deputy Ministers and top officials and that Turkey was a Covid-19 “green country (zone)” when during the five days he was in Turkey, there were more than 5,500 people in the ICU wards and some 2,000 people were intubated while the daily Covid-19 infections exceeded four figures?

The defaulting Minister must be reminded that Malaysia is on the eve of triple national celebrations - the National Day, Malaysia Day and 50th anniversary of Rukunegara – and his continued presence in the Cabinet would mar the triple national celebrations as it is clear that he does not support and has infringed the fifth Rukunegara principle on “Courtesy and Morality”!

Malaysia has currently a cumulative total of 9,249 Covid-19 cases – ranking it as No. 89 of over 200 countries. Does the defaulting Minister support the goal to ensure that Malaysia’s cumulative total is less than 10,000 cases during Malaysia’s triple celebrations until Malaysia Day on Sept. 16, 2020?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri