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Can the virus tell who is a VIP?
Published on: Sunday, February 21, 2021
By: Muzaffar Syah Mallow
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Credit: wired.com
THIS legal principle is very important and should be observed if we want to effectively put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic that we are now facing.

Recently, Malaysians were upset over a new rule that was gazetted, exempting Cabinet ministers returning from official visits from the mandatory 10-day quarantine.

The rule contained in a new ministerial order, which is in force from Feb 9 until Aug 1, requires ministers to only undergo observation or be under home surveillance until discharge without danger to the public.

Quarantine is carried out as part of a process in Malaysia and many countries around the globe to curb the spread of Covid-19.

It keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.

It has also been highly recommended by many health experts around the world, including the World Health Organisation.

It is crucial to note the average incubation period for Covid-19 takes a longer period of more than three days.

There is a risk of danger from those who may be infected being released too early as they may spread the virus and infect more people.

In the end, they might even become super spreaders of the virus itself among society and this is something which we cannot tolerate.

We must never forget that Covid-19 is a virus that is dangerous and highly contagious to people.

It can cause serious health issues for those who have been infected, especially the elderly, those who are suffering from chronic diseases and those who have a weak immune system.

There is no effective medication that can be used to deal with this virus instantly.

Even though vaccines have finally been developed by several western countries, its distribution to populations in all countries, including Malaysia, will take a long period of time.

While waiting for the vaccine to arrive and be distributed among the population, it is highly important for everyone to abide by all recommendations by health experts to prevent infection and avoid spreading the virus to others.

As such, it is very important that rules in any form, which are going to be created to curb the spread of Covid-19, should be applied equally to everyone in the country.

There cannot be one set of rules that applies to only one group of people and another set being implemented on another group if we are to curb the Covid-19 outbreak effectively and efficiently in the country.

The idea of equality before the law is also clearly stipulated in our Federal Constitution.

Article 8 Clause (1) of the Federal Constitution clearly stipulates that, “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to its equal protection”.

In Clause (2) of the same Article, it further states that, “Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion, race, descent, gender or place of birth in any law ...”.

This clearly indicates to us that everybody should receive equal treatment under the law itself.

The idea of equality before the law is also embodied under the principle of human rights.

Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 clearly states that, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

“All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination”.

At the same time, authorities must also strictly enforce, investigate as well as take action against anyone who violates the movement control order (MCO) which has been enforced in the country.

No one should be exempted from legal action for their failure in following the MCO standard operating procedures (SOP).

Everyone in the country regardless of their position, rank and background must abide by the SOP if we want to curb the spread of Covid-19 effectively and efficiently in our country.

There cannot be any excuse from anyone saying that they do not know and not following the rules as stipulated.

If there is unequal treatment when enforcing the laws and meting out punishment, it can send the wrong signal to the public over the government’s seriousness in combatting Covid-19 in the country and this can reduce public confidence and trust in our legal system.

Our ongoing battle with Covid-19 will also be affected.

Full support and cooperation by everyone in the country is vital if we want to put an end to the threat of Covid-19.

- Muzaffar Syah Mallow is a senior lecturer of Faculty of Syariah and Law at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (Usim). 





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