Be balanced in deciding bail for MCO cases, Bar tells courts

Cardiologist Dr Ong Hean Teik has been charged with obstructing the duty of a city council officer and violating disease control laws.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar today urged the courts to exercise their discretion judiciously in imposing bail and other conditions against those charged with violating the movement control order (MCO).

Its president Salim Bashir said the courts should take into account the type and gravity of the offences when considering such issues.

“The courts should also take judicial notice of the rare fact that the people are now living with the MCO as well as grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told FMT.

He was responding to news that a 61-year-old doctor in Penang had been told to post bail of RM13,000 for offences related to the MCO.

Dr Ong Hean Teik, a cardiologist, also had his passport impounded and was told to report to the police once a month.

Ong had defied the MCO by jogging in a park two weeks ago. He was charged with obstructing the duty of a city council officer and violating disease control laws, offences which could see him jailed or fined.

He claimed trial at the Magistrate’s Court in George Town yesterday.

Urging the courts not to impose excessive bail amounts, Salim said bail is only to secure the attendance of accused persons.

“Higher bail and additional conditions can only be considered if there is the possibility of an accused person tampering with witnesses and evidence,” he said.

Adding that excessive bail alone would be seen as a punishment, he reminded the courts of the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

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