by Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
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.
If the severity increases, so must the prescribed punishment. Currently, the punishment for violating SOPs is RM1,000.
Since the instance and effect of not following SOPs have increased drastically over the past year, it makes sense to increase the fine of RM1,000 which is stipulated by 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 an increase. That’s a 900 per cent increase.
It’s too heavy, not equitable, and does not fit the crime.
This is especially so when the offender commits the offence not as an act of defiance but by sheer carelessness or forgetfulness. In cases like these, some flexibility should be exercised by law enforcers so as not to unfairly burden the public.
Not everybody can afford to fork out 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 left off with a reprimand.
A distinction must be made between first offenders and repeat offenders. It is proposed that a three-tier system be introduced instead of a RM10,000 fine for all. I therefore suggest 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. They should excercise their wisdom and fairness to determine the appropriate fines to be imposed
This way, the casual offender will not be placed in the same category as the habitual, persistent and recalcitrant offender.
The persistent offenders can easily be traced from police records.
The Alliance for Safe Community wishes to reiterate its call to all people to follow SOPs strictly. This is so important for their safety and that of their loved ones. Comply not because of the law but because of one’s safety and health.
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.
Together we shall build a safe community.
To the law enforcers, I wish to advise them to exercise utmost discretion and fair judgment before issuing summons to the offenders. For those who make unintentional mistakes they must be reprimanded. But they must not hesitate to take action against those who openly flout the SOPs and can lead to Covid-19 transmission and infection.Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
Alliance for Safe Community