Huazong calls for a review of the hefty fines for Covid-19 SOP violation, describing it as ridiculously high

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has expressed great concern over the potential adverse impact of the hefty penalty to be issued to companies, agencies and other organizations for flaunting Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP), after an amendment has been made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Act 342).


Its President, Tan Sri T.C Goh noted that, under the said amendment, there’s a provision for general penalty under Section 24 of the Act that would see penalties of no more than RM2 million fine issued to organizations registered under the Registrar of Societies (ROS), the Chinese organizations included. He was concerned that this may have a ‘chilling effect’ on the Chinese organizations, and forcing them to reduce their activities and programmes amidst the pandemic, or to go into a ‘hibernation mode’.

He pointed out that, in a joint press conference held on Tuesday, Health Ministry (MOH) director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and Datuk Dr Norhayati binti Rusli, director of its Disease Control Division, they highlighted that that the proposed amendment also included organizations, recreational clubs, societies and associations which are registered under ROS.

“We believe, even if found guilty as charged, no registered organizations in Malaysia, Chinese organizations included, can afford to pay such hefty fine of RM2 million,” said Goh.

In a statement issued today, Goh who is also President of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) thus hoped policymakers from both sides of the divide could pay serious attention to the tabling of the said proposed amendment bill, especially in regards to the inclusion of registered organizations, recreational clubs, societies and associations under the proposed amendment, with exemption to government agencies.

While asserting Huazong’s support to the efforts taken by the government to better control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including amending the existing laws which are deemed outdated, especially amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, he nonetheless opined that there’s a need for the government to review and clarify on the provisions of the proposed amendment, such as the jail term, ceiling amount of compound, and the exemption of government agencies but not those registered organizations.

“What’s the justification for the exemption of the government agencies from the proposed new Act?” he questioned.

He noted that, under the proposed new Act senior officials of organizations or corporations which have committed the offenses, such as the director, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, manager, secretary or other relevant officials, too can be prosecuted; and once convicted, they can be fined not more than RM100,000 or a maximum jail term of seven years, or both. As for organizations, if convicted, they could be fined no more than RM2 million.

Besides this, the enforcement agency could issue a compound of not exceeding RM1 million to organizations involved, and a maximum fine of not more than RM10,000 for individual offenders.

Goh opined that such hefty penalties ought to be reviewed.

On Dr Noor Hisham’s remarks that the proposed fines were aimed chiefly to serve as a deterrent and to compel the public to better comply with the SOPs, Goh quipped that to a vast majority of Malaysians it is more than just a deterrent, but a terrifying piece of law.

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