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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — The new amendments to the law that provides for fines up to RM10,000 for anyone who breaches Covid-19 regulation, and up to RM50,000 for companies is disproportionate, the DAP said today.
Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) added that ministers may not find the stiffer penalties a burden, but not so the average Malaysian.
“Such a harsh increase in penalties will not help to curb the rise in the 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,” he said in a statement.
Lim recounted the case of Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali who was fined only RM1,000 for flouting the mandatory home quarantine after returning from a trip in July last year.
The PAS politician escaped prosecution at that time after Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun said the Health Ministry had not issued Khairuddin a home surveillance order upon return from abroad.
Lim contrasted it with news reports of a 72-year-old woman who was charged in court and fined RM8,000 and sentenced to a day in prison for a similar offence last August.
He also pointed that no legal action had been taken against International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali and Federal Territory Minister Datuk Seri Annuar Musa whom he said had been pictured failing to observe the Covid-19 physical distancing rules during the movement control order.
The Bagan MP said that ministers may afford the RM10,000 penalties, but not ordinary citizens, many whom he stressed were already struggling from losing their jobs while having to pay daily living expenses in the ongoing economic crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lim also said the arbitrary gazettement of such laws underscored an urgency for Parliament to reconvene.
“Clearly using these Emergency powers to impose stiffer penalties demonstrates how important Parliament must be restored, to allow such measures to be debated fully so as to protect the rights of the rakyat,” said Lim.
The new amendments to Act 342, also known as the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, will take effect on March 11.
Under the amended law, any person found breaching the rules for “which no penalty is expressly provided” stand to face a maximum fine up to RM100,000 or imprisonment up to seven years upon conviction.
The full copy of the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 can be obtained here.
The amendments were gazetted yesterday, without debate at the Parliament, pursuant to powers accorded to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s by the Federal Constitution under a state of Emergency.