Opposition leaders want more time to discuss Act 342 amendments, cast doubts on fairness of its enforcement

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PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said apart from the excessive RM10,000 maximum penalties on individuals, the definition of the RM1 million maximum fine for companies was too broad and needed closer scrutiny. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said apart from the excessive RM10,000 maximum penalties on individuals, the definition of the RM1 million maximum fine for companies was too broad and needed closer scrutiny. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Opposition leaders want to debate the amendments to Act 342 next Monday at 10am in Parliament and strongly oppose its implementation.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said apart from the excessive RM10,000 maximum penalties on individuals, the definition of the RM1 million maximum fine for companies was too broad and needed closer scrutiny.

“We just need more time to look into the details of the amendments, especially the RM10,000 for individual fines as well as those for companies.

“The word companies is too general as it includes not just companies but parties, associations, organisations and RM1 million is a lot especially now when people are struggling from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said it was better to educate, mitigate and focus on recovery instead of punishing the people with heftier fines.

He said the movement control order (MCO) failed to control the spread of the pandemic hence more fines will not solve the problem.

He asked the government to take more responsibility for the Covid-19 pandemic and not pass the blame on the people.

“MCO didn’t work and we had good SOPs then but it has to come with no double standards and abuse. The leaders must lead by example.

“Instead of the RM10,000 and RM1 million, we propose stiffer penalties and a jail term of up to seven years. Better to have harsher penalties than to have deaths due to carelessness,” he said.

Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu said the current government lacked culpability in its actions and cast his aspersions as to how fair the government would be when implementing their proposed heftier fines upon the public.

Using UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as an example, he said in Malaysia the government propaganda vehicle “Keluarga Malaysia” was breaking the law publicly and only getting away with a tiny RM1,000 fine.

“The UK PM was asked by his party to resign for having a party at home. Here we see Keluarga Malaysia only fined RM1,000 while those of us who want to come to Parliament was fined RM1,000 per person,” said Mat Sabu alluding to the Keluarga Malaysia event in KLCC that saw record crowds cause failure to adhere to the current SOPs.

The event was attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“With such things happening and with these newly proposed RM10,000 fines I am really doubtful that this government will implement this rule fairly,” he added.

Pakatan Harapan yesterday remained firm in its decision to not support the improved amendments to Act 342 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Bill 2021 and called on Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to hold an in-depth discussion with members of the Opposition, on the matter.

In a statement today, PH’s chief secretary Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail lamented that despite additional amendments made today, by way of reducing fines and compounds, PH MPs are of the view that the Bill still opens up a wide space for power abuse, double standard and corruption.

On December 8, the Senate approved a motion to revoke the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021; the Emergency (Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 and the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021.

The Emergency (Essential Powers) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, the Emergency (Offenders Compulsory Attendance) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 and the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 were also revoked.

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