The daughter of Malaysia’s Umno president and her husband on Tuesday (5 May) were fined RM800 in the Magistrates’ Court in Kuala Lumpur for flouting movement control order (MCO) regulations.
Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid, the daughter of former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff plead guilty to the offence of travelling from one infected area to another under Regulation 3(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.
According to the charge sheet, the pair had travelled from Jalan Batu Nyaman Country Heights in Kajang to the Environmental Department office located in Putrajaya.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Nur Ashikin Mokhtar and Zulaaikha Mohd Apandi submitted that Nurulhidayah and her husband should be given the maximum fine of RM1,000, as they had committed the offence during Phase Three of the MCO.
While defence counsel Ahmad Zaidi Zainal argued that Nurulhidayah was officially invited by the deputy environment minister’s office to discuss the commemoration of Earth Day, Nur Ashikin replied that the supposed invite cannot be deemed as an excuse for the couple to violate the MCO.
Malay Mail reported that journalists and reporters were prohibited from covering the proceedings “for reasons that still remain unclear”.
Members of the public questioned as to why Nurulhidayah and her husband were not issued the maximum fine of RM1,000.
One commenter pointed out, however, that it was unlikely that the authorities would have taken action had it not been for the overwhelming number of complaints from the public regarding the police’s earlier purported inaction on Nurulhidayah’s case.
Rakyat didenda RM1,000.
Nurul Zahid RM800. Kenapa pulak ada 20% discount?
What are the mitigating factors that the Rakyat biasa are not able to cite? #AntaraDuaDarjat https://t.co/Fk60HSs7fL
— chermaine ???? (@suetmei) May 5, 2020
Mungkin kalau takde netizen … polis tak ambil tindakan. @NurulZahid cabar ‘netizen’ lagi hebat!
— KerajaanPintuBelakang (@SiamLaksa) May 5, 2020
Pair previously attracted criticism for doing grocery shopping together before restrictions were lifted
Earlier, federal police announced that it was investigating Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid, the daughter of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, for allegedly violating MCO regulations.
Nurulhidayah’s Instagram posts regarding her visit to two Cabinet ministers and doing grocery shopping at a Tesco outlet with her husband during MCO sparked an uproar amongst members of the public.
Many questioned the authorities as to why she appeared to be exempt from the stiff fines and jail terms slapped against many others who had breached the MCO.
Huzir Mohamed, the federal police’s Criminal Investigation Department director, said on 25 April that “an investigation paper has been opened over the alleged MCO violations” by Nurulhidayah and her husband.
The investigation, said Huzir, was opened under Section 269 of the Penal Code, which pertains to negligent acts likely to cause the spread of a dangerous disease and Regulation 3(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas).
The first offence is punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine while the second provides for a maximum RM1,000 fine, up to six months’ imprisonment, or both upon conviction.
Separately, Senior Minister of Defence and Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob in a press conference last week said that while the new regulations permit two immediate family members to commute together to buy essentials, only one of them should do the shopping to avoid long queues on the premises.
“What we suggest is that only one person does the shopping even though two people are allowed to go out.
“Maybe the husband can wait in the car while the wife shops for necessary items,” he added.
Touching on why the government had suddenly decided to change the MCO’s standard operating procedure (SOP), Ismail Sabri said that “there were complaints from the public saying that they have parking problems”.
“There are cases where the wives are working but don’t know how to drive and the husbands need to send them to work.
“These are among some of the issues … After considering the issues and looking at the cases of COVID-19, which is now gradually decreasing, we decided to allow this flexible measure,” he said.