Reduce fine for not wearing face masks, MPs tell govt

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii (middle) and Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi (4th left) in a press conference at Parliament today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two MPs today urged the government to reduce the fine for those caught disobeying the rule for the mandatory use of face masks in public places, calling the RM1,000 compound “excessive”.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii and Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi said their petition for the fine to be reduced from RM1,000 to RM250 was supported by 78 MPs from both sides of the political divide.

“We fully understand the rationale for implementing the mandatory face mask-wearing policy… (but) the RM1,000 compound is way too excessive for ordinary Malaysians during these economically trying times,” said Yii.

“We feel the fine is too high, especially for the B40 (low-income) households and students. We have received a lot of comments from the public about this,” he added in a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

The use of face masks in public places was made mandatory on Aug 1.

Stressing that punishments must be in line with the crime, Yii said the compound for smoking in prohibited areas was only RM250.

In Australia, he said, the fine for not wearing a face mask is A$200, about 6.7% of the country’s minimum wage.

In Malaysia, meanwhile, the RM1,000 fine is 83% of the minimum wage.

Wong, meanwhile, said there had been “double standards” since the rule came into effect as no action was taken against ministers seen attending crowded events without face masks or without using them properly.

“I think the issue here is clear,” she added. “We don’t want a government which has double standards.”

Adding that the “ruling (class)” could afford to pay the fine, she said ordinary people would feel the pressure.

“We even saw a boy weep when he was issued a compound for not wearing a face mask properly a few days ago.”