KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — People have paid the Ministry of Health (MOH) about RM17.4 million in compounds since March for flouting Covid-19 rules during the epidemic in Malaysia, amounting to about RM2.5 million a month.
According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (special functions) Redzuan Md Yusof, MOH issued 33,822 compounds in the past seven months from March till October 24, as he noted that anyone would be fined for breaching standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are enforced to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Of that, a total of 20,074 compounds worth RM17,377,500 have been paid, whereas 14,322 compounds worth RM11,713,500 were issued between March and October 24 for SOP violations.
“The Royal Malaysia Police, on the other hand, issued 40,854 compounds on the general public from March till October 29, 2020,” Redzuan told Kampar MP Thomas Su Keong Siong in a written Dewan Rakyat reply yesterday, without specifying the amount of the police fines.
The DAP lawmaker had asked the government the number of actions taken against Malaysians for breaching movement control orders and MOH SOPs set by the National Security Council (NSC) to curb the Covid-19 epidemic.
Assuming that each police compound was issued at RM1,000 — the maximum allowed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) that police have always issued for Covid SOP violations, according to anecdotal reports on social media — this would mean that the police have fined people in the country about RM40.9 million so far in the past seven months, equaling about RM5.8 million a month.
Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announces daily hundreds of individuals getting fined for various SOP violations or breaching movement restrictions, such as not wearing a face mask, not socially distancing, failing to record details of visitors at premises, operating entertainment centres, or operating premises after hours, among others.
No politician or lawmaker, however, has been publicly fined or jailed for breaching SOPs, despite regularly posting on social media photographs of themselves without wearing face masks at public gatherings, or being in close proximity with other people.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) last month chose not to prosecute Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali for breaking quarantine because they found that the PAS lawmaker was not given a home surveillance order after returning from Turkey.
The AGC’s statement begs the question as to why MOH issued an RM1,000 compound to Khairuddin on August 7 under Act 342 following the minister’s Turkey trip in July, with Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah repeatedly declining to answer the media on the matter after the AGC’s decision.
Separately, Redzuan told Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang in a written parliamentary reply yesterday that MOH had decided to impose home quarantine on returnees from Sabah after the September 26 state election — until they get results from their Covid-19 test upon arrival in the peninsula or Sarawak — unlike the policy of 14-day quarantine at designated centres for arrivals from abroad.
“The government did not mandate 14-day quarantine at quarantine centres for returnees from Sabah because if this policy were to be implemented, it would also need to be implemented on all states or areas in Malaysia,” Redzuan told the DAP lawmaker, who had asked why the NSC did not mandate 14-day quarantine for arrivals from Sabah after the state polls.
The minister cited previous red zones in Kedah due to the Sivagangga cluster prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in Sabah.
“Therefore, if 14-day mandatory quarantine were to be imposed, then everyone who came from the state of Kedah were supposed to have been put under mandatory quarantine too. This is impractical and outside the capacity of health services for implementation,” Redzuan claimed.
According to CodeBlue’s analysis, new Covid-19 cases nationwide doubled about every three days after the Sabah state election, compared to doubling time of more than a month in August. Sporadic cases in the country, whose sources of infection are unknown, increased from about 23 per cent of local transmissions on October 2 to a high of about 81 per cent on October 11.
Malaysia is now facing the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic that shows no signs of slowing, as daily reported infections nationwide have surpassed 1,000 in the past three straight days. Sabah is the current Covid-19 epicentre, reporting the highest case incidence rate per 100,000 population in the country at almost six times higher than the national average.