Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Chan Foong Hin today criticized the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 (P.U. (A) 76/2021) gazetted by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government as being a draconian and oppressive law as violators of the Standard Operating Procedures set by the government face a RM10,000.00 fine without clear guidelines.
The Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 had been gazetted on February 25 this year and came into force on March 11. As a result, Section 25 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 has been amended and now provides that “The director-general or any authorised officer, may … compound any offence under this Act or any regulations under this Act …(a) in the case of a person who is an individual, a sum of money not exceeding ten thousand ringgit. (b) in the case of body corporate, a sum of money not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit.”
“Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador claimed that the police do not have the right to increase or decrease the amount of compound of RM10,000.00, and therefore the people will be automatically imposed a compound at RM10,000.00 and are then required to lodge an appeal to their respective district’s Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah (PKD). This is fundamentally contrary to what Senior Minister of National Defense Ismail Sabri said that the maximum of RM10,000.00 will only be imposed on repeat and hardcore offenders,” said Chan.
Chan, who is also the Secretary of DAP Sabah, slammed the PN federal government for failing to properly draw up guidelines and design the enforcement procedure, and that the same was due to reckless legislation without careful consideration of all the matters incidental thereto.
Chan further pointed out that there are many different levels of violations of the SOPs that may occur, some of them unintentional, some are not serious at all, such as failing to scan for temperature or forgetting to scan MySejahtera, or inadvertently not wearing a mask. But there are other more serious ones, such as violating a quarantine order, or interstate crossing without permission.
“This emergency ordinance drafted and gazetted by this PN federal government does not distinguish between the severity of the crime, ending up with the ridiculous situation of having a one-size-fits-all punishment of RM10,000.00, and leaving it to the people to lodge appeal or plea in order to reduce the punishment.
Chan remarked that although the public has the remedy of lodging an appeal within two weeks, this will only increase the workload of health officials at the PKD. Chan noted that the PKD is already very busy tracking down Covid-19 hotspots within their districts and coming up with measures to fight the pandemic, so why increase their workload?
“Besides that, there is an even more serious problem, and that is that the approval of the appeal depends on the arbitrary judgment of the director of the PKD. To whom can the people further appeal if the PKD’s decision is unfavourable? What is the mechanism?” questioned Chan.
Chan then asked, why not let police officers be equipped with an electronic system that can identify how many previous violations that an offender has? Law enforcement and penalties must comply with the principle of proportionality.
Chan then said that previously a college student had received a RM1,000.00 for merely pulling down his mask for a while after drinking water. Then, most Malaysians agree that the RM1,000.00 compound is already too much for such casual offenders, let alone ten times that of RM10,000.00.
“The Malaysian economy is sluggish and life is difficult for the rakyat. It seems that this PN government is a cold-blooded government that does not care for the people. RM10,000.00 is more than three times the monthly income of a B40 family with a monthly income of RM3,000.00! It is ridiculous for this PN federal government to have gazetted such a draconian and oppressive piece of law hiding under the Emergency declaration without having being vetted by Parliament!” said Chan.
Chan Foong Hin
Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu