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RM10,000 fine for breaching MCO too heavy, says Lee Lam Thye

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 27): The sharp rise in the penalties from RM1,000 to RM10,000 for violating the Movement Control Order’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) as proposed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) is deemed too heavy, not equitable and does not fit the crime, said Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said since the instance and effect of not following SOPs had increased drastically over the past year, it makes sense to increase the fine of RM1,000 which is stipulated by the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

“But to increase the fine from RM1,000 to RM10,000, as proposed by the Ministry of Health, is too hefty and excessive... that’s a 900% increase.

 “All right-thinking people will agree with the maxim that punishment must always fit the crime... the severity of a crime should determine its punishment, where if the severity increases, so must the prescribed punishment,” he said in a statement today.

He said in certain cases, some flexibility should be exercised by law enforcers so as not to unfairly burden the public, especially so when the offender commits the offence not as an act of defiance but by sheer carelessness or forgetfulness.

Lee added that not everybody can afford RM10,000, especially during these economically challenging times, nor is it fair to first offenders who probably forgot or were slow in complying.

“There may be some who make honest or unintentional mistakes. These people should be let off with a reprimand.

“A distinction must be made between first and repeat offenders. It is proposed that a three-tier system be introduced instead of a RM10,000 fine for all,” he said.

He therefore suggested to the relevant authority to devise and implement a fairer system of penalising those who violate the SOPs put in place to fight Covid-19, where they should exercise their wisdom and fairness to determine the appropriate fines to be imposed.

“It's important to all people to follow SOPs strictly... comply not because of the law but because of one’s safety and health, and for this, it is important to step up efforts to educate the public on their responsibility to ensure that they do not unwittingly spread the virus,” he said.

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