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Norway’s PM fined for flouting her government’s physical distancing rules

Norway has set an example to the rest of the world that no one is above the law

Erna Solberg - WIKIPEDIA

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Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, was fined 20,000 Norwegian crowns (RM9,700) by the police for violating physical distancing rules when she organised a family gathering to celebrate her 60th birthday in February.  

Instead of giving feeble excuses or showing any form of arrogance like other politicians, the two-term prime minister apologised for contravening the law.

Her apology speaks volumes for her character.

The willpower of the police in fining the prime minister is testimony to their impartiality when enforcing the law. Irrespective of an individual’s status, everyone must be treated equally before the law in a democracy.

The gathering was only with her 13 family members at a mountain resort. Solberg and her husband, Sinde Finnes, had made the decision to hold the celebration and selected the restaurant.

Norway has banned gatherings of over 10 people for social functions.

Normally, the police would not have issued a fine in such cases, but they made an exception as the prime minister has been at the forefront in imposing such restrictions.

“Though the law is the same for all, all are not equal in front of the law,” police chief Ole Saeverud said. “It is therefore fair to impose a fine as a measure to uphold the public’s confidence on social restrictions.”

Even though her husband had contravened the law, he was exempted from being fined. The restaurant where the gathering took place too was not fined.

The police chief said, “Solberg is the country’s leader and she has been at the forefront of restrictions imposed to keep in check the spread of the virus.”

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Solberg, who faces elections in September, has championed strict rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus, resulting in Norway having one of the lowest rates of infections and deaths in Europe last year.

Still, Norway experienced a spike in infections in the first three months of 2021, because of the variants of the virus, forcing the government to tighten restrictions in late March.

Norway has set an example to the rest of the world that no one is above the law. Kudos to the police for discharging their duties without fear or favour.  

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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