Penang doctor changes plea to guilty in MCO jogging charge

Dr Ong Hean Teik being led in handcuffs to the Magistrate’s Court in George Town, Penang by a court bailiff today.

GEORGE TOWN: A cardiologist who initially pleaded not guilty to violating disease control laws by jogging at a park here during the movement control order (MCO) period changed his plea to guilty at the Magistrate’s Court here today.

Dr Ong Hean Teik, 61, was fined RM1,000 for jogging at City Park on March 19, the second day of the MCO, which was deemed a non-essential activity.

Magistrate Jamaliah Abd Manap ordered Ong to pay the fine under Rule 3(1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

Deputy public prosecutor Yazid Mustaqim Roslan later said a second charge against Ong of preventing city council officers from carrying out their duty had been dropped.

Ong had claimed trial to the charge under Section 186 of the Penal Code, which carries two years’ jail or a fine of RM10,000 upon conviction.

The obstruction charge concerned the doctor’s chat with city council officers which was recorded on video, in which he said the MCO was not a curfew and was to prevent crowding in public places.

Ong paid bail of RM13,000 for both charges on March 30.

During mitigation today, his lawyer Hasnal Rezua Merican told the court that Ong was a law-abiding citizen and the jogging incident was his first offence.

“He is an avid jogger and has done so to maintain good health. In fact, one of the first bans lifted after the MCO was on jogging, which was essentially what he was doing,” Hasnal said.

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