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Cops urged to use discretion in dealing with Covid SOP offenders

12 Aug 2020 / 11:00 H.

PETALING JAYA: The authorities should practise compassion and be more sensitive towards prevailing circumstances when issuing compounds to those who supposedly violate standard operating procedures (SOP) on the prevention of Covid-19.

Human rights advocates noted that while many are penalised for blatantly flouting the SOP on the movement control order (MCO), there are also those who are issued RM1,000 compounds for “minor offences”.

They claimed that this was especially unfortunate considering many Malaysians are struggling to make ends meet due to job loss or salary cuts.

The situation is made worse with VIPs, including ministers and MPs, seemingly let off the hook for committing similar offences like not wearing face masks at crowded areas, despite photos and videos of such acts going viral.

Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) committee member Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said the authorities should provide a platform to allow those fined to make appeals and reduce their compounds.

“There should be an appeal process. However, the reasons given to the authorities have to be reasonable, and it will be at their discretion whether to lower the fine.

“This will allow offenders who can’t afford to make payments a chance to appeal. I believe there should be some sort of mechanism to allow this,” he told theSun yesterday.

Muhammad Sha’ani also suggested that the authorities issue warnings for first-time offenders, and have records for each warning to ensure they are not let off the hook if caught again.

The former commissioner of the Human Rights Commission was asked to comment on a recent incident where a teenager was fined RM1,000 for supposedly pulling down his face mask momentarily while waiting on a platform for a train.

Netizens and other prominent figures have rallied behind the student, and accused the police of uneven enforcement, pointing out how several top government figures were spotted in various photos not wearing face masks during large gatherings.

Muhammad Sha’ani said the law should be no different for those in power and that they should be issued the maximum fine, as being lawmakers, they should be setting the best example.

“It’s not like they can’t afford to pay, especially with what they are earning. The fact that these very individuals are the ones who enact the laws and SOP is even more appalling.

“So if you are seated in Parliament and yet flout the SOP, then I have to question your qualification as a lawmaker. If anything, you should be showing better behaviour than the rakyat.”

Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo said every law and regulation should be equally applied across the board.

“Especially when it comes to public health. There shouldn’t be different rules for different people,” he said.

On incidents of individuals being issued compounds for offences such as in the case of a teenager, Khoo described the matter as “ridiculous”.

“The police should be more sensitive to what exactly is going on. If one is sweating and had to wipe his face, it is ridiculous to fine them. Of course, it’s a different matter altogether if you don’t wear a mask at all,” he said.

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