The Ministry of Health (MOH) has proposed that the fine for flouting standard operating procedures (SOPs) to control the COVID-19 pandemic be raised from RM1,000 to RM10,000
According to The Star, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the RM1,000 punishment under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) has to be revised to reflect the current situation.
"The Act was drafted in 1988. RM1,000 was probably reasonable then, but now we need to review that," he said during a dialogue titled 'COVID-19: Malaysia's Journey towards Flattening the Curve' at the Malaysian Healthcare Conference 2020 on Tuesday, 25 August.
"We hope it can be pushed up to RM10,000. However, that is up to the parliamentarians to decide."
He said the proposal to increase the maximum fine under Act 342 has already been submitted to Parliament
However, he noted that it will take time for the motion to be accepted.
According to Act 342, enforcement authorities can charge a person under Section 24, whereby if found guilty, a first-time offender faces a penalty of up to two years' jail or a fine, or both.
Under Section 25 of the same act, it states that the Health director-general or any public officer can impose a compound of up to RM1,000.
The issue was debated in Parliament after Kuching Member of Parliament Kelvin Yii submitted a motion to, instead, reduce the fine to RM250 last week
Yii specifically mentioned the mandatory mask-wearing requirement in public and said that the current fine is too high and is a burden to the people, especially for students, the poor, and people with disabilities, reported New Straits Times.
However, Dr Noor Hisham has voiced his disagreement with the move.
"Over the last two weeks in Parliament, they wanted to lower the fine to RM250. We disagree with that as it is a compoundable offence," he said yesterday.
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has also previously said the government has no intention of lowering the maximum RM1,000 compound, saying that the fine is in place to protect society and not to burden the public.
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