A short TV3 clip showing a teenager fined RM1,000 for pulling down his face mask while waiting on a platform for a train has gone viral. It also shows the helpless teenager crying after being compounded.
In the TV3 clip, that was uploaded on Twitter on Saturday, 8 August, the teenager claims that the reason he had his face mask pulled down to the chin because it was itchy and that he only did it temporarily.
However, a Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) officer said that people often give the same excuse. According to him, the rule about the face mask states that it is to be worn at all times in crowded public places.
What's the rule about face mask in public places?
Well, according to a list of places and occasions where the people have to wear face masks are public and crowded areas, indoor areas where people gather, places of worship, hospitals, clinics, and retail outlets.
The list was released by the National Security Council (NSC) on 5 August, which states that face masks are also required when getting a haircut and visits to a spa or a beauty salon.
The video, however, has prompted anger among people
They accused the PDRM of being unfair in its enforcement of the rule.
"A teen gets fined RM1k for not wearing a mask at a train station. Meanwhile, ministers freely participate in political/govt gatherings in indoor areas with participants not wearing a mask or wearing it incorrectly. Where is the compassion for the rakyat? Where is the rule of law?" tweeted CodeBlue Editor-In-Chief Boo Su-Lyn.
"I'd prefer no punishment at all, but if you really have to penalise people for not wearing masks properly, reduce the compound to RM50 or something similar to a parking offence. RM1k is overly punitive at a time when many Malaysians are barely making ends meet," tweeted Reuters' Malaysia correspondent Rozanna Latiff.
Agreeing with Rozanna, another journalist said that it's sad to see the regular people being fined without mercy while the people with powers who are clearly wrong but are left alone.
Another person said that the cops should have exercised discretion in this case.
"Remind the young man to put on his mask properly and give a stern warning," he added.
The sentiment was echoed by another netizen who said that the teenager already has a face mask and all needed was just to be reminded to use it properly.
"My heart goes out to this young man and everyone who has fallen foul of this new law."
Meanwhile, one person questioned the logic of enforcement.
"You're saying that if at one point someone really needs to take a breath because it's too hot in this country, we can't? And if we're unlucky we'll get fined RM1,000?!"
Some accused the police of only going after the people who cannot fight because they are helpless.
"Sometimes you lot forgot to be human. It's not like he isn't wearing a mask at all. Go talk to him, remind him lah, give him a warning. At this current situation, RM1000 is a lot, especially for students. You have no idea how this will affect him financially this month," tweeted a person.
"We all have seen politicians in a more crowded place without a mask on and never once gotten fine. Can't even begin to imagine how much hardship the student is going through to a point where he would breakdown over a fine. Heartbreaking," another person tweeted.
At the time of writing this story, the tweet with the video of the teen crying has been retweeted over 12,000 times with more than half of those retweets calling out the selective enforcement by PDRM
Thousands of netizens have accused the PDRM of being selective in enforcement.
According to them, the cops are only going after the people who cannot fight because they are helpless while not touching those in power who are openly flouting the rule.
Following the publication of this SAYS story, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Wan Ahmad Fayhsal posted photos of him without a mask:
Meanwhile, Human Resources Minister advised that Malaysians should "accept any job, even if there is a salary cut":