Kit Siang Threatens Bloc Vote On ‘Draconian’ Act 342 Amendment

Lim Kit Siang tells Khairy Jamaluddin to withdraw the Bill and to retable it in the next Parliament meeting after consultation with MPs, medical bodies, and NGOs.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang today urged the government to withdraw the Act 342 amendment Bill 2021 from Parliament or risk facing a division vote. 

The Iskandar Puteri MP described the proposed amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) — which impose maximum compounds of RM10,000 for individuals and RM1 million for corporate bodies — as “draconian and unscientific”.

“Khairy should withdraw the amendment Bill and consult not only with MPs and political parties, but all the relevant medical bodies and NGOs on the amendment Bill or face the prospect of having the bill opposed in a division (the first case after the signing of the CSR MoU) and re-table an amendment bill in the next meeting of Parliament,” Lim said in a statement.

Most Bills are passed via a voice vote in Parliament. A division or bloc vote, where MPs vote individually, is initiated if it is supported by at least 15 MPs. 

The Act 342 amendment Bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat earlier today, with Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali saying that it will be tabled for second reading in the same meeting. The government is expected to attempt to pass the Bill on Thursday.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last September with Pakatan Harapan (PH), the biggest Opposition bloc in Parliament, for bipartisan cooperation, as the government only has a razor-thin majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

The amendment Bill of Act 342 — which regulates Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) — raises compounds of offences to a maximum RM10,000 for individuals and RM1 million for corporate bodies. Penalties upon conviction are revised upwards to not more than seven years’ imprisonment, a maximum RM100,000 fine, or both for individuals, as well as a maximum RM2 million fine for corporate bodies.

The maximum seven-year jail sentence for individuals convicted of breaching Act 342 is equivalent to punishments for violent crimes like criminal assault, and is even harsher than the maximum two-year imprisonment for causing death by negligence.

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