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Commentary: Little wonder why Malaysians are angry over celebrity Neelofa’s repeated COVID-19 breaches

JOHOR BAHRU: Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, popularly referred to as Neelofa, and her husband Muhammad Haris Muhammad Ismail (higher referred to as PU Riz) are common celebrity influencers.

Yet in current months, they’ve been within the information for the fallacious causes, and now made notorious for continued breaches of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) beneath the Malaysia’s Movement Control Orders (MCO).

From a marriage ceremony that clearly violated social distancing necessities, a questionable “work journey” to Langkawi, to crossing state strains for a carpet purchasing journey and internet hosting a household gathering on the primary day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, they not solely dedicated a number of infringements but additionally blithely posted these on social media.

This week, they pleaded not responsible to costs of failing to register with the MySejahtera tracing app at the carpet shop in Negeri Sembilan. Police introduced that they might not be urgent costs for crossing state borders, on the recommendation of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Immediately after the listening to, netizens identified that Neelofa didn’t put on a masks beneath her niqab on the Seremban Magistrate Court as required by the COVID-19 ordinances. Investigation into this newest saga has begun.

READ: Commentary: Malaysia’s nationwide MCO – denial, doubts and divisions threaten effectiveness



Unfortunately, Neelofa and PU Riz are not the one celebrities breaking COVID-19 guidelines. While early on within the pandemic, Malaysian celebrities had come collectively to remind Malaysians to abide by the SOPs, many have been seen blatantly ignoring them.

Police have began investigations into Siti Nurhaliza, considered one of Malaysia’s hottest singers, for holding an occasion to commemorate the delivery of her new child child. Several of her visitors and different dignitaries have been reported to have crossed state strains to attend the occasion.

This disregard for guidelines transcend the poor behaviour of some people and appear to be considerably commonplace.

Siti Nurhaliza gave delivery to son Muhammad Afwa on Apr 19. (Photo: Instagram/ctdk)

Over the previous few months, various Instagram influencers have been fined for offering false info of their journey functions whereas others have been fined for Hari Raya video greetings with no masks.

A trend present by native model Leeyanarahman Collection in Kuala Lumpur held in March confirmed many trend present attendees with out their masks on.


Anger in direction of celebrity breaches of SOPs has bubbled over. A nationwide petition to place Neelofa and her husband in jail gathered 25,000 signatures in lower than 36 hours, however the calls for embody a halting of the double-standards in legislation enforcement and understandably so.

On the identical day in April that Neelofa, her husband and her relations have been fined a complete of RM60,000 (US$14,500) for holding a marriage with out social distancing and masks, a road vendor in Kelantan was fined RM50,000 for preserving his burger stall open past 10pm, sparking angry comparisons. No wonder Neelofa shortly provided to pay the burger vendor’s superb.

The frustration over the double requirements additionally appear to revolve round a perceived increased burden of proof for celebrities. Most celebrities and dignitaries caught on digicam breaching SOPs are known as in for investigations earlier than they are charged.

Some common residents, nevertheless, are given quick summons on the spot properly past their monetary means with out the necessity for additional investigations. Some have frolicked in jail due to their lack of ability to pay the superb or attraction in opposition to the fees.

Do these personalities assume they are above the legislation? Do they not know they’re breaking the legislation?

READ: Commentary: Mixed messaging, misinformation in Malaysia are complicating compliance with COVID-19 rules

It is likely to be a couple of unhealthy eggs nevertheless it’s exhausting to shake off the sensation of injustice. While strange Malaysians are made to remain house, celebrities couldn’t solely stroll round with out their masks, they might additionally maintain occasions just like the Iftar get together on Apr 29 in a lodge in Kuala Lumpur.

Worse, celebrities appear overly fixated on how the MCO will impression them and are unbothered with the huge challenges confronted by the nation thrown up by the pandemic.

Kamal Adli and Uqasha Senrose, one other celebrity couple, introduced in end-March plans they plan to have three marriage ceremony celebrations. They stated they hope that SOP restrictions can be eased by then. Netizens have been fast to level out that they need to hope COVID-19 numbers come down as an alternative.


Indeed, probably the most painful realisation is how extravagantly these celebrities dwell whereas the remainder of the nation suffers.

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccination in Kuala LumpurA medical employee receives a vaccine for the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) throughout a vaccination program at Kuala Lumpur Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Mar 1, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)

Many on social media have identified how the brazen shows of wealth and luxurious are offensive at a time when others have misplaced jobs, are struggling sharp drops of revenue, or are unwell.

Given that various these celebrities faucet Islamic hijabi traits to have interaction their followers, there have additionally been questions on how pious they really are and whether or not they are the form of function fashions folks needs to be trying as much as.

Some have identified too that Neelofa’s partner, PU Riz, is an Islamic preacher. Yet, the couple’s demonstrations of self-indulgence and outright disregard of SOP breaches run counter to the moderation and honesty anticipated of spiritual spokespersons.

READ: Commentary: Frustrated with tightened COVID-19 restrictions, Johor residents hope this MCO is the last


While celebrities who frequently flout SOP restrictions with no regard for the hazards of COVID-19 have come beneath big criticism, there are a handful of followers who appear to unwaveringly help their Insta-heroes.

Neelofa, for instance, continues to have an enormous following on Instagram, with some calling her a “sturdy lady” for overcoming the controversy round her. That too is problematic if such behaviours are setting the requirements for younger Malaysians and sending the fallacious sign concerning the seriousness with which COVID-19 guidelines needs to be handled with.

When artistes preserve breaking the legislation with impunity and appear to get away with mere slaps on their wrists, public frustration can gas resistance in opposition to the principles and divert wanted consideration on breaking the chain of transmission.

This lack of deal with combating the pandemic is much more harmful now that Malaysia’s new day by day an infection numbers have reached 6,000 circumstances, with ICU beds shortly filling up and the variety of lifeless rising.

Hospitals in Kedah have already declared they’ll now not enable power sufferers into the ICU. A hospital in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, has even arrange a particular air-conditioned tent simply to retailer our bodies of the lifeless.

The state of affairs is more and more dire and Malaysians must deal with the pandemic to cut back its unfold, as an alternative of getting distracted by incessant celebrity dramas.

Celebrities like Neelofa can also do their half – by obeying the legislation.

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Dr Serina Rahman, Visiting Fellow on the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, writes from Johor the place she’s in lockdown with the remainder of Malaysia.

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