PETALING JAYA,Mar 16: With the government likely to streamline the new fines for Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) offences, several MPs have called for the RM10,000 compounds that have been issued so far to be cancelled and for the punishment, as laid out in the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, to be rescinded.
The amendment raises fines for individual offenders to RM10,000 and RM50,000 for companies. After a litany of complaints, de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan has said the specific offences liable to receive the maximum penalty will be announced soon with the Covid-19 emergency management technical committee set to meet today on the matter.
In a statement, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng said that until the matter is defined in detail, all RM10,000 compounds issued should be scrapped.
“The PN government should, in fact, cancel all the RM10,000 compounds issued before the list of offences are laid out in black and white by the minister in charge, whoever that might be,” the DAP man said.
“These are half-baked policies from PN which have done damage to the ordinary rakyat who are already facing economic hardships.”
Selayang MP William Leong agreed that the existing RM10,000 fines should be cancelled, and called on the government to rescind the increase entirely.
“The risk of abuse by authorities, together with the needless and severe punishment of the innocent, will not lead to better compliance with the SOPs. Instead, they will undermine efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“This increase is too drastic and out of proportion to the seriousness of the SOP offences. Many people cannot afford to pay the RM10,000 fine. This means for all practical purposes, this government is sending these people to prison.”
The PKR man said the fines were irrational, disproportionate and unreasonable, and said it reflects a failure of the government to recognise the difference between strict liability offences (not really criminal in nature and minor) and those that require criminal intent.
Chiew Choon Man, chairman of PKR Youth’s (AMK) legal bureau, advised all those served with a compound for SOP violation to seek legal assistance, and said they were prepared to help.
“The AMK legal bureau is of the opinion that the increase of penalties and fine to be compounded from RM1,000 to RM10,000 under Sections 24 and 25 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) are invalid.”
He said this was because the ordinance has not been laid before Parliament and therefore does not have the force of law, and because it violates the principles of proportionality and reasonableness.