By Emma Victoria
THE government has been urged to revise the blanket RM1,000 fine imposed on offenders caught not wearing face masks in public places, and to further define ‘crowded public places’ where wearing the item is mandatory.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the compound is way too high especially for the lower income group.
Some of them, he added, may not even have enough money to buy face masks in the first place while others are not aware of the policy or standard operating procedures (SOP).
“If we look at Victoria, Australia, their fine for an offender is A$200, which is about 6.7 per cent of Australia’s minimum income. Whereas in Malaysia, RM1,000 is about 83 per cent of the RM1,200 minimum wage.
“This is not fair considering our principle is to educate, not just to punish,” Dr Yii said in a statement that he had raised the issue at the Dewan Rakyat sitting this morning.
The government, he said, should impose fines in stages, where the first time offenders may be fined between RM200 and RM300, with the amount increasing for repeat offenders.
“When the fine is too high as it is now, this may also open up opportunity for corruption among the enforcers.”
“We do not want this policy which is meant for good, to be abused, and used by certain quarters to collect “duit kopi” from people who may not be able to pay the fine,” he said.
The lawmaker also urged the government to clarify on the definition of ‘crowded public places’.
“Some of my constituents are confused on what is considered as public places because there have been no specifics gazetted or listed in any official government websites or publications.
“What was announced by the Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was very general, like public transportation, markets, shopping malls and other public places.
“If we look at the model in Australian, their government listed all the places that face masks are needed to be worn, including some exemptions,” said Yii.