Rejects Act 342 Amendments – After RM75 Million In Fines, The Double Standard Govt Wants More Money From The People

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Dec 16 2021
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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is pushing very hard to amend the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342). Even PM Ismail Sabri has used his power to extend the current Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) sitting for another day just to allow the controversial amendments to be debated. In fact, the government is so desperate to get it approved that it smells a rat.


Backdoor Speaker Azhar Harun announced the House will meet for a final time on Monday (Dec 20) in order for the amendment bill to be tabled for the second and third readings before a vote. Opposition Pakatan Harapan, who has opposed the proposed amendments, which will see a higher compound rate and jail terms, should not think twice about rejecting it.


If the Opposition, for whatever reasons, supports this unfair Act 342 amendments on Monday, they can expect boycott and retaliation from the voters – guaranteed! The original amendments proposed that the compound rate be increased from RM1,000 to RM1 million for a corporation, while an individual fine be raised from current RM1,000 to RM10,000.

Collect More Money - RM100 Notes

Worse, the “general penalties” in the revised Act included a maximum RM100,000 fine or 7-year jail or both (from current 2 years jail and a fine, or both) for individuals who break Covid-19 prevention rules. Meaning, if you are compounded for not wearing a face mask or not practicing social distancing, but are unable to pay, you will be charged and subjected to “general penalties”.


In short, the ridiculous new proposed law says if you are caught and too poor to pay, leading you to be charged in court and convicted, you may end up being slapped with maximum RM100,000 fine or 7-year-jail or both. In comparison, former PM Najib Razak is still walking around like a free man, despite convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison by the courts for stealing RM42 million.


So, does that mean a person who forgot to wear a face mask has actually committed an offence half as serious as stealing RM42 million? Proportionately and for argument’s sake, does that also mean it’s much worthwhile to steal RM21 million because the jail terms is the same as not wearing a face mask or not practicing physical distancing or having visited a crowded place like a pub or nightclub?

Coronavirus - Malaysia Covid-19 Record Cases and Deaths - KLCC

After public outrage and criticism, the government of Ismail Sabri has halved the maximum compound for companies to RM500,000, but maintained the RM10,000 fine for individuals. General penalties have also been revised to a maximum RM50,000 fine or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both. Obviously, even after being revised, the punishments are still excessive and unacceptable.


For example, on the same day PM Sabri attended a self-praised event at the KLCC, a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur was reportedly fined RM25,000 while 44 patrons were slapped with RM5,000 compounds each for a total of RM245,000. Based on the new amendments, the nightclub could be fined RM500,000 and each of the 44 patrons fined RM10,000 each, bringing the total to RM940,000.


That is as good as telling the nightclub to shut down its business. Exactly how many times can the entertainment centre subject to a RM500,000 compound ticket before closing down? Even if it has deep pockets, its business is likely to suffer as customers will think twice about patronizing the nightclub due to the excessive fines. If you think you’re not affected because you don’t go clubbing, think again.

Coronavirus - MCO Lockdown Violation Compound

The new Act 342 revisions apply to everyone, regardless whether you’re having lunch at Bistro, enjoying “teh tarik” at a Mamak restaurant, working at a factory, entertaining clients at a cafe, buying food or fruits at a stall, shopping at a mall, or even attending a private birthday party. At the end of the day, it’s always their words against yours.


The biggest reason people are rejecting these amendments is double standards. And the biggest reason the government is insisting on the new laws is to collect more money from the people. Mr Khairy revealed in September that the backdoor government had collected a whopping RM75 million in fines for Covid-19 SOP (standard operating procedure) violations.


But how much did the government collect from the ministers and their families for breaking their very own Covid-19 SOPs? Crucially, not a single minister was sent to prison for obvious reason, despite having violated multiple health SOPs meant to curb the spread of the virus. Therefore, the health ministry and the double standard government should stop insulting people’s intelligence.

Khairy Jamaluddin

It’s laughable when Health Minister Khairy insisted that the amendments would act as an additional “weapon” in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah claimed that amendments to the Act 342 are important to be approved to ensure continuity in enforcement and to increase its effectiveness in curbing the spread of Covid-19.


Do they think the people have forgotten how former Plantation, Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali was allowed to quietly skip quarantine after his holiday in Turkey? How about Lisa, a Malaysian single mother who spent 8 days in jail for breaching the government’s movement restrictions, only to see the daughter of UMNO president Zahid Hamidi enjoyed a discount for an even bigger offence?


Lisa was arrested by police after she went to buy a packet drink and stopped to chat with three neighbours in her nearby apartment unit. She was initially sentenced to 30 days in jail, but had her sentence reduced to a RM1,000 fine. Zahid’s precious daughter, Nurulhidayah, on the other hand, was given a RM800 fine for travelling to visit Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

Coronavirus - Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar Broke Lockdown MCO Law

Thousands of Malaysians were thrown into jail while awaiting trial, after being caught at roadblocks for breaking the MCO (movement control order). Yet, in Perak, Deputy Health Minister Noor Azmi Ghazali and fellow Perak executive councillor Razman Zakaria were pictured sitting down to lunch with some 20 people. They were not similarly thrown into jail.


In another photo, Deputy Development Minister Abdul Rahman Mohamad happily cut a cake while closely surrounded by his supporters in Pahang. Then, there was Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, who proudly posted on Twitter of him having lunch with former Menteri Besar Ahmad Said in the latter’s home. All of them too were not thrown into prison.


Under the “Stay At Home” restrictive orders last year, no mass gatherings were allowed, and only one family member was allowed to go out to buy groceries, medicines or food. But all the ministers appeared to be immune to the laws. For example, Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa happily uploaded a photo of him and two colleagues walking side by side without a mask.

UMNO Warlord Annuar Musa

In fact, the defiant and arrogant Annuar Musa had repetitively violated the MCO, but the government and police chose to close one eye, preferring to arrest and jail ordinary folks instead. So, what type of “weapon” that Khairy was babbling about? In truth, the Act 342 revision will essentially give the clueless and incompetent government a new weapon to make people’s life more difficult.


In the same breath, Health director-general Dr Noor should be ashamed for twisting the truth about the reason the pandemic had spread beyond control. Since the pandemic spread last year, the real culprit was the government, especially the power-crazy (former) Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Everything started when he tried to seize power in Sabah, leading to a state election.


However, it was not Muhyiddin alone who was responsible, even though he admitted that the Sabah elections had contributed to the surge in Covid-19 cases. Dr Noor was equally guilty when he justified that 14-day quarantine was not mandatory for Sabah arrivals because according to his logic, not all arrivals returned from red zones – triggering a new wave of Covid cases.

Sabah State Election – Muhyiddin Launches Gabungan Rakyat Sabah GRS

To impress the Malay voters, the clueless government started another wave when the daily infections shot from 2,000 to almost 10,000 thanks to Ramadan bazaar and the traditional “balik kampung” exodus for Hari Raya celebration. Then-Senior Minister Ismail Sabri even had the cheek to say he had no idea how 200,000 people managed to evade the police roadblocks to return to their home towns for the festival.


And was it not Gaylord Azmin Ali, the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), who initially approved 95,142 dubious companies out of 517,144 companies to operate during the so-called national full lockdown in June, only to expand the list to 128,150 companies? So, why target corporations with higher fines when it was the government that poured fuel to the fire, and spread the virus?


Even as recent as the 4-day event at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, which was launched by PM Ismail (Dec 9) to mark his administration’s achievements in its first 100 days and to self-praise the government for scoring self-awarded 90% score, it was tainted with double standards. Khairy only slapped his own government with a RM1,000 fine, despite 100,000 people breaching SOPs.

Ismail Sabri 100-Day Self-Praised Event - RM1000 Fine For Violating SOP

From the beginning, it has been the clueless and incompetent governments of Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri that were the super spreader” of Covid-19. It was their half-baked policies that saw close to 3-million cases and more than 30,000 deaths due to Coronavirus today. To increase the fines at a time when the people on the street are struggling to put food on the table is extremely irresponsible.


To make matters worse, unlike the existing Act 342 which states the penalties for first or repeat offenders, the proposed revisions only specify different maximum punishments for individuals and companies regardless of whether they are first or repeat offenders. Hence, it is open to abuse and misinterpretation and even encourage corruption.


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