What we hear through reports is that the Health DG wants to amend Section 24 & 25 of Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988) which deals with general penalties and compounding of offences.
We feel the jail term of two years for first-time offenders with a fine is sufficient. A jail term of five years for second-time offenders with a fine as noted in the Act is sufficient.
The Act allows for a maximum RM1,000 fine for compounding of offences, which is also sufficient.
People have lost their jobs. Even if you fine them RM10,000, as suggested by the DG, they will not be able to pay. So we may end up sending everyone to jail and use taxpayers’ money to house them.
I think what we need to do now is continuously engage, educate and enhance enforcement. It’s not a time to increase fines and anger the people even more.
Leaders must show good examples. What’s the use of punishing the man on the street when leaders in the government and the Ministry of Health (MOH) are not setting a good example?
I would only suggest one amendment to the Act, ie if leaders flout the law, they should be penalised double or triple the jail term or fine of the common man.
Further, we will not support a law which allows MOH to stop elections from being conducted. We have three branches of government — the executive, judiciary and parliament to debate that. MOH can put a strong advisory to the Cabinet and let the government decide.
The Election Commission must study how to conduct elections via online. How will politicians campaign using Zoom? How will citizens, no matter where they are, will be able to vote and exercise their rights?
This will work out to be cheaper and will lead to less corruption and bribery. Election workers also can be reduced and schools need not be used as voting centres. It will be a cleaner and fairer election with results immediately.
Imposing the Emergency just to avoid elections should not even be a suggestion to be considered.
Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah is president of the Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM).
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