KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah today said there is no need to increase the penalty for violating standard operating procedures (SOPs) under the various movement control orders, and instead pointed to a lack of awareness and clarity as the crux of the problem.
She said a more pressing issue is the alleged double standards being applied when it comes to such laws with political leaders.
“The issue is not in having heavier penalties. Awareness is still lacking at all levels. To start with, the leadership at the cabinet in not flouting the SOPs is much wanting,” said Maria.
“If leaders are unable to follow the SOPs and yet when they violate they get off scot free or with excuses that they happen to meet up bring disrepute to the SOPs which have been set up so painstakingly by the Health Ministry (MoH) and the Senior Minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob).”
This comes after Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said last Saturday that it was time to increase the fine of RM1,000 as there were still thousands flouting the rules.
Maria said aggressive campaigns should be held on all media platforms for a month to raise awareness, and suggested that the Community Communications Department (J-Kom) — previously known as the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) — should be used for this purpose.
Jasa was criticised last year after it received a proposed amount of RM85.5 million in an early tabling of Budget 2021, and was also accused of being a government propaganda tool.
The allocation for Jasa was later cut to RM40.5 million.
“Like what the Minister of MCMC had said it is meant to serve the community purposes, then it is even more appropriate to use Jasa for the intensive campaign,” said Maria, referring to Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah.
Maria added that specifics on Covid-19 cases should be made public, including which districts and towns the cases were involved in, to help in tracing and isolating the close contacts of the cases.
She also said that SOPs should be made clear by the government, lamenting that implementation currently seems to be at the discretion of the police.
She also said that those who claimed to have been wrongly fined were directed to appeal the matter at the courts, however, many do not have the funds to go through the legal process. Furthermore, she said court processes are already being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
MoH currently releases a daily statement, which informs the public on matters relating to Covid-19, including the number of new cases in each state. However, more specific locations of the cases are rarely revealed, unless when it involves a new cluster.
There have also been several controversial cases of people being compounded by the police for allegedly flouting the SOPs under the movement control orders.
Among which, on January 21, a man was reportedly fined for being outside his home at 10pm, despite no such restriction being stated by the government during the announcement of the second movement control order earlier in the month.
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