KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 – The DAP will not support proposed amendments to Act 342 that raise compounds of Covid-19 offences for companies or businesses to a maximum RM500,000, Lim Guan Eng said today.
The DAP secretary-general noted that the Act 342 amendment Bill — which was revised multiple times even before the second reading and debate that has been deferred to the March meeting of the Dewan Rakyat — will maintain the maximum compound of RM1,000 for individuals and halve the initially suggested RM1 million compound for companies to half a million ringgit.
Currently, all compounds of offences under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), which do not differentiate between individual and organisational offenders, are capped at RM1,000.
“PH (Pakatan Harapan) has earlier decided not to support Act 342 due to the controversial increase in fines, suggesting that companies that continue to defy and breach the SOPs (standard operating procedures) be closed down instead,” Lim said in a statement.
“Individuals and companies have suffered enough and should not be burdened under the current economic recession with heavier fines subject to the discretion of the government.”
It is unclear what prompted Lim’s brief statement today.
The DAP, one of the components in the opposition PH coalition, is the largest party in Parliament with 42 MPs.
Earlier today, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that some Umno MPs may not support the Act 342 amendment Bill in a bid to trigger a general election. A PKR source also told FMT that PH lawmakers would not likely support the controversial amendments that previously sparked widespread public anger.
Technically, the Act 342 amendment Bill is minor legislation; failure to pass the Dewan Rakyat should not be automatically perceived as a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, unlike major government Bills like the federal budget.
Last December 20, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin pulled the Act 342 amendment Bill from debate in order to re-table it in the next Parliament meeting, after the Dewan Rakyat health, science and innovation committee unanimously recommended postponement.
The Bill first tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on December 14 for first reading proposed maximum RM10,000 and RM1 million compounds of offences for individuals and corporate bodies respectively.
General penalties for offences upon conviction were increased to a jail term of up to seven years, a maximum RM100,000 fine, or both for individuals; as well as a maximum RM2 million fine for corporate bodies.
The proposed seven-year imprisonment for violating Covid-19 SOPs like not wearing face masks or not physically distancing is more severe or equivalent to the punishment for violent crimes like causing death by negligence, attempted homicide, marital rape, kidnapping, and child abandonment.