RM10,000 fine for violating SOP receives mixed reactions from Sarawakians
The RM10,000 fine for violating standard operating procedures received mixed reactions from the public. — Borneo Post pic

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KUCHING, Feb 26 — The public have shown mixed reactions over the impending implementation of higher fines for the violation of standard operating procedures (SOP) to control and curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beginning March 11, individuals who violate the SOP can be fined up to RM10,000, while companies or corporations that violate the SOP can be fined up to RM50,000.

This is based on the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, through a federal government gazette uploaded to the official online portal of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) Friday.

Assistant manager Kevin Nila Christopher Nangai, 46, pointed out that the fine is too harsh especially in the times when Covid-19 has affected many livelihoods.

“Most would not be able to pay the fine, and they might end up in jail. Forever will this person carry an IC that indicates the person is an ex-convict and they will forever be subject to discrimination (in the community). In my opinion, stronger enforcement of the SOP is the best way to control and ensure people comply with the SOP.

“More uniformed personnel to be deployed at areas such as malls and supermarkets eateries to ensure that social distancing is adhered. The reason why people do not care about the SOP is the lack of such enforcement,” he opined.

Marketing executive Catohrinner Joyce Guri, 32, is of the opinion that the fine is too unrealistic and expensive.

“Having this fine (imposed) is like a burden. We know it is a way of educating the stubborn society but still out of so many ways, expensive fine is not a way to punish a person.

“People are losing jobs (during this time) and have less to spend. People might be stressful about it and this kind of act only bring more harm to society,” she said.

However, sales manager Paul Liew, 48, thinks that while the new fine may seems too harsh, it is necessary to curb the situation that has gone out of control.

He suggested that it should be implemented at staggered amounts based on the severity of offence.

“In this uncertain economic times, not many can afford to pay such a fine. Even though it would serve as a good lesson for those who violate the SOP, I think there is need to see the type of offences they commit.

“For individuals, not wearing a mask could be fined the minimal amount of RM1,000 while having a gathering could be fined a maximum of RM10,000. For companies, it could be a range of RM10,000 to RM50,000,” he said.

Hotelier Gabriellia Hazel, 23, personally thinks that the RM10,000 fine is too expensive, considering the fact that the world is in the midst of the pandemic.

“The RM1,000 fine for individuals who breach the SOP is already high enough, but RM10,000?

“I suppose that this is done to serve as a lesson to those violating the SOP so that they will think twice before breaching them. After all, the government needs the public’s cooperation in curbing the spread of Covid-19,” she noted.

Meanwhile, web administrator Judith Goh, 42, said that a hefty fine for flouting the SOP should have been implemented a long time ago.

“People are too relaxed in their attitude towards Covid-19. They always think the virus will not get them and they think they are fine just because they don’t show any symptoms.

“These inconsiderate people are the ones causing the numbers to spike by going all over the places and holding gatherings. It will teach them a lesson once and for all if they have to come up with RM10,000 to pay for their inconsiderate acts,” she said.

However, Goh warned of grey areas where implementation is concerned such as cases where people unintentionally violate the SOP.

“For example, wearing masks. Even though we have been in this pandemic for nearly a year, some people are still not used to the practice of wearing masks when they go out, especially the older folks. Some may have left theirs in the car when they go shopping, and so on.

“I think in these cases, there should be some form of leniency, depending on the reasons given,” she said.

Self-employed Nadiatul Rowina Shamsul, 39, also agreed that the high amount of fine should have been long in place.

“It is long overdue. We have been through wave after wave of infections. People still don’t learn from the experience and continue to violate SOP. So the government needs to be stricter,” she said.

Nadiatul stressed that it must be implemented across the board for all, regardless of whether they are ordinary citizens, prominent business people or politicians.

“It doesn’t matter whether people can afford to pay or not. If they are afraid to part with their hard-earned money, then they should abide to the SOP and remind everyone else around them to do the same. Money lost can be earned back, life lost is gone forever.

“But it must be the same standard across the board for all, there should not be any excuse for anyone. Covid-19 doesn’t differentiate whether you are rich or B40, young or old,” she said. — Borneo Post