DAP seeks to defend Malaysians from ‘financial ruin’ after govt raises Covid-19 penalties

Shahrin Aizat Noorshahrizam
·3-min read
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government was 'essentially blaming the people' for the rise in cases. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government was 'essentially blaming the people' for the rise in cases. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today his party is examining the law to see how it can help Malaysians once the new penalties for Covid-19 regulation violations kick in next month.

The Opposition lawmaker reiterated his party’s objection to the latest revisions to the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) Ordinance 2021 that sharply raises the compound fines from the present RM1,000 to RM10,000 for individuals and RM50,000 for companies found in breach of the government’s anti-virus standard operating procedures (SOPs) from March 11.

“The current levels of compound fines would be sufficient to drive home the message to strictly comply with the SOPs. There is no need to force them to financial ruin when such penalties should be set based not on the wealthy but on the poor’s ability to pay,” Lim said in a statement.

He said he has tasked his party’s legal bureau chief Ramkarpal Singh who is also Bukit Gelugor, and Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham to look into the amended laws “to see how we can save Malaysians from financial ruin”.

Lim who is Bagan MP said the amended laws could potentially wreck those in the low-income bracket.

He said that instead of resorting to such harsh and exorbitant preventive measures, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government should undertake a rehabilitative approach first.

“The PN government is essentially blaming the people for the recent escalation in Covid-19 cases that has made Malaysia the worst nation in Asean, when it is the PN’s ministers incompetency, lack of leadership and mismanagement that is the real cause,” Lim said.

He emphasised that equal enforcement of the law for government elites as well as ordinary citizens would be far more effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19, together with the 3Ts of testing, tracing of all close contacts of infected people.

The matter is stipulated in the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 through a Federal Government gazette uploaded on the official portal of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. It also states that companies or corporations that violate the SOPs can be fined up to RM50,000.

However, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador clarified earlier today that the new penalties will only be imposed on repeat SOP violators and those who cause mass Covid-19 infections.

“We admit that many people misunderstand (the move) and worry about the compound amount of up to RM10,000. It is not for all offences, including failing to wear face masks.

“It is for certain offences, namely, for those who are stubborn by committing the offences repeatedly as well as those who violate the SOP, including interstate travel, causing the spread of Covid-19,” he was quoted in Jeli, Kelantan as saying by national news agency Bernama.

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