No quarantine? Opposition MPs ask why Kitingan allowed in the House after travelling to Sabah (Updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition lawmakers have questioned why an MP from Sabah was allowed to be present in the House following news that the lawmaker could have returned to the state recently.

Fahmi Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai) said he was made to understand that some MPs had just returned from Sabah and questioned if Keningau lawmaker Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had observed the 14-days self-quarantine process.

“I am not sure if YB Keningau should be in the House; did he undergo self-quarantine, ” asked Fahmi.

Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (PH-Sepanggar) said MPs from Sabah were asked to be quarantined for a fortnight following advice by the Health Ministry and National Security Council in order to be allowed to attend Parliament sittings.

“I have not seen my wife and kids for almost two months now because I have not returned to Sabah as I have been observing the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“I don't want to return to Sabah because I don't want to be under quarantine again.

“We know that YB Keningau had attended the Sabah state assembly on Nov 12, so if you count the days, he shouldn't be allowed in the House today.

“The quarantine process is to help protect other MPs present from possible a Covid-19 infection so we would like an explanation on the matter, ” said Azis.

Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Mohd Said said that she is unable to provide a ruling immediately and had to consult the Dewan Rakyat secretary for an explanation.

Some lawmakers then stood up and urged her to order Kitingan to wait outside the House while she sought an explanation from the Parliament administration.

“I cannot order YB Keningau to go out of the House until I get an explanation from the Dewan Rakyat secretary so please give me some time and be fair to me as well, ” said Azalina.

Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) then interjected and asked Kitingan to stand up and just explain to the House if he had indeed observed the self-quarantine period.

To this, Azalina said while she understood the concerns, she still needed to get the confirmation from Parliament.

Teo said if Kitingan just stood up and provided his explanation, it would be recorded in the Hansard.

“And we will be satisfied with that, that is all we want, ” said Teo.

Azalina insisted that she still needed an official answer from Parliament on the matter before making a ruling.

A few minutes later, she received an official answer and said that Kitingan was allowed to attend the Parliamentary proceedings after he received a relief order by the Health Ministry.

“YB Keningau is allowed to be present as the Parliament clinic had allowed him to be here, he also obtained the relief order after completing the quarantine from the Health Ministry, ” said Azalina.

Azis however interjected and said all MPs from Sabah have been following the quarantine order and have not returned home.

“My aunty died in Semporna and I was not allowed to go home. I have undergone the Covid-19 test and I am free of the virus, but still, that is not the reasoning for us Sabah MPs to return home.

“We have sacrificed a lot by not returning to our constituencies but what we see here today is YB Keningau is allowed to be present.

“This is a question about our safety as MPs, ” he said.

To this, Azalina said she had obtained the official explanation from Parliament and those unhappy with the decision can bring it up with the Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.

Later, Azhar then said he has asked Kitingan to temporarily leave the Dewan Rakyat until an explanation on his quarantine status is determined.

Azhar said he was made to understand that Kitingan had started his quarantine on Nov 12 and received his release order from the Health Ministry on Monday (Nov 23).

"YB Keningau had his pink wristband cut by the Lembah Pantai Health office after undergoing quarantine and obtaining a negative Covid-19 result on Sunday (Nov 22)," said Azhar.

Several MPs then interrupted and said the number of quarantine days was less than what was required.

"We got information that YB Keningau was spotted in Kota Kinabalu on Nov 13 so our question is even if he began quarantine from Nov 12, it has only been 12 days so why the double standards," said Mohd Azis.

To this, Azhar then said he needed time to check with the Health authorities as the ruling was made based on the information given to him.

"Let me contact the Lembah Pantai Health authorities and find out so please give me some time," said Azhar.

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