KOTA KINABALU, Feb 2: A group of villagers on their way to Tenom to buy food and medicine were penalised with RM1,000 fines each by police after they were found to be in breach of movement restrictions.
The eight villagers, including a senior citizen, were arrested and brought to Tenom police headquarters and fined on Jan 27. They were in a bus that was carrying more than the 50% passenger limit.
The villagers, who came from the interior district, said their offence was unintentional, especially since their homes were far away from Tenom town, making it hard for them to get their essentials.
One villager named Irip Pang said she made the journey to get supplies for her granddaughter who was young and disabled.
“I didn’t come here to go gallivanting, I wanted to buy necessities – milk and diapers – for my grandchild. No one else can take care of my grandchild because her mother has passed away, while my husband is too old and can’t go out.”
Another villager, Buriat Alipan, said he was forced to head to town on that day as he had to buy medicine for his hurting leg, while also to get food supplies.
“Police said it’s MCO, but how can I not go (to Tenom)? I want to buy medicine because my leg is in pain until now, that’s why I had to go. We’re villagers, needy people. We don’t intentionally commit offences, we’re not going out for fun,” he said.
The bus driver, Ruil Taligi, said he did not want to allow the eight villagers on board at first since it would exceed the 50% limit of its original 13-person capacity.
However, he felt sorry for the villagers as some of them really needed to go to the town to buy essentials.
“Police told me I exceeded the load limit. I already told them (the passengers) but they still wanted to come on board, and I felt pity for them.
“I begged police on duty at the roadblock to let us off with a warning or to just fine me alone and not the passengers, because they’re poor people and only wanted to buy essentials.
“But the officer still instructed us to go to the district police headquarters,” he said.