PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF MALAYSIA (NCCIM) AND THE ASSOCIATED CHINESE CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF MALAYSIA (ACCCIM).
NCCIM CALLS FOR A REVIEW OF THE PROPOSED INCREASE IN MAXIMUM FINE FOR COMPOUNDING OF OFFENCES AND GENERAL PENALTY UNDER ACT 342 (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES ACT 1988).
The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) calls for a review of the proposed increase in maximum compounding of offences for the COVID-19 regulation violations, under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
The Government has tabled a proposed amendment to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) that will see the compound for violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and general penalty significantly increased:
(a) Individuals who flout government SOPs will be subject to a maximum RM10,000 fine, a tenfold increase from RM1,000 presently;
(b) Companies that do not comply will face up to a whopping RM1 million compounds;
(c) For General penalty, any person who commits an offence for which no penalty is expressly provided shall, on conviction, be liable to a maximum fine of RM100,000 or to imprisonment for seven-year jail term or both. In the case of a body corporate, be liable to a fine up to RM2 million.
The amendment bill was tabled for the first reading in Dewan Rakyat yesterday, and the second reading is expected to be tabled on Thursday. We view the proposed increase in fines is too hefty and disproportional, especially for the low-and middle-income households/individuals, and SMEs. Businesses are still in the healing process to rebuild their recovery path post the pandemic, and some continued to face operating cashflow problem. Hence, it is inconsiderate to add on the heavy fine burden. The general public were already upset over what appears as double standards and inconsistencies when it comes to the enforcement of laws. There are concerns that the heavy spot fines could open to abuse, bribery and double standards. In particular, the inconsistency of SOPs interpretation and enforcement has instilled fear and anxiety amongst the general public and businesses.
While we reckon that harsher punishments can deter SOPs violations, we think that efforts to educate them to comply with the SOPs must continue and come out better deterrent method, including consistency of SOPs. The existing laws allow a temporarily shut down factories and business premises that fail to comply with the SOPs on the COVID-19 prevention and cause infections to occur.
The chamber urges all Malaysians, including businesses must strictly adhere to the SOPs to keep the workplace safe and clean for their employees to work. Equally important is that the enforcement units must enforce the SOPs in a consistent and objective manner.