MP slams move to raise fine for breaching SOPs to RM10,000

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok says increasing the fine will only add to the financial burden of the people.

PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP today described the proposal to increase the maximum fine for compoundable offences under Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988) from RM1,000 to RM10,000 as “extremely harsh”.

Teresa Kok warned that such a move could also lead to abuse of power and corrupt practices when it came to enforcement.

In a statement, the Seputeh MP said as it is, the RM1,000 fine was already unbearable for many poor people.

“The proposal to increase it to RM10,000 would further increase their financial burden, especially during the economic downturn.

“The stiff penalty proposed will also indirectly encourage more cases of abuse of power and enhance possible corrupt practices in enforcement,” she said.

Kok was commenting on health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s proposal for the fine for compoundable offences under the Act to be increased.

Noor Hisham said the revised figure had been submitted to Parliament recently and would take some time to be passed.

“The Act was drafted in 1988. The RM1,000 was reasonable back then but now we need to revise it. So I leave it to the MPs to decide,” he was quoted as saying during a special dialogue on “Covid-19: Malaysia’s Journey Towards Flattening the Curve” in conjunction with the Malaysian Healthcare Conference 2020 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The Act is used to punish those who flout the SOPs under the movement control order (MCO).

Kok urged the health ministry and the government to continue educating the public on the importance of adopting practices and measures to protect themselves from diseases like Covid-19.

“It is axiomatic that education and persuasion is always more effective and far better than punitive action,” she said.