Press statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP For Bagan, Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur on 26 February 2021:
DAP disagrees with the exorbitant increase in penalties for breaching the movement control order (MCO) restrictions from RM1,000 to RM10,000 for individuals and RM10,000 to RM50,000 for corporations, under emergency amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342). Such a harsh increase in penalties will not help to curb the rise in number of infections, when there is double-standard in the enforcement of laws. At the end of the day, it is not the quantum of penalties but the even-handed and uniform enforcement of laws that matter.
Only the lower income groups and ordinary rakyat will bear the brunt of stiffer penalties. Whilst Ministers can afford the RM10,000 compound fine, the ordinary rakyat can not afford to pay even the penalty of RM1,000 compound fine, much less RM10,000. Have the ordinary rakyat not suffered enough from the economic recession, business closures and job losses to pay such a stiff compound fines of RM10,000?
The PN government must realise that their mismanagement of the COVID-19 health crisis has resulted in an economic crisis with GDP growth contracting by 5.6% and unemployment reaching 4.5% in 2020. With poverty rate now at 5.6% following the revision of the poverty line income for households in Malaysia from RM 980 to RM2,208 per month in 2019, these numbers are expected to increase.
Further it is unlikely that Ministers will ever be penalised as severely as the ordinary rakyat for violating MCO restrictions. Such double-standards are evident in the cases of Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali as well as Federal Territory Minister Datuk Seri Annuar Musa.
During the MCO period, Azmin organised a 500 person Chinese New Year event, and Annuar had been caught in public and openly not wearing masks and eating in close proximity with a large number of people, but no action was taken against them. Khairudin was only fined RM1,000 for flouting the mandatory home quarantine rule whilst a 72 year old Malay lady was charged in court and fined RM8,000 and a day imprisonment for a similar offence.
The new amendments beginning March 11, does not require any warrant. An offence against the MCO is liable for a fine of up to RM10,000, imprisonment for up to seven years, or both, if a case is brought to court. Clearly using these emergency powers to impose stiffer penalties demonstrate how important Parliament must be restored, to allow such measures to be debated fully so as to protect the rights of the rakyat.
Muhyiddin justified that the emergency powers would allow the government to impose stiffer penalties against those who violate SOPs. Since this objective has already been achieved, why is there still a need for an Emergency and suspension of Parliament?
Lim Guan Eng
MP for Bagan