The declaration of Emergency aimed at curbing further spread of COVID-19 should not be politicised, said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The declaration was made to facilitate and reinforce all government actions in curbing the spread of the virus by implementing new ordinances without the need to go through the legislative process in Parliament, which takes time, he said.
“When we declare an emergency, we can promulgate laws under the Emergency Ordinance to increase a compound. For example, fines may be imposed on companies that violate the rules.
“This law also aims to prevent the recurrence of offences. If the amount of a fine is increased, perhaps individuals or companies will be afraid to repeat the same offence,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview.
The nation’s King, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, assented to the declaration of emergency to be carried out throughout the nation until 1 August as a proactive initiative to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Ismail Sabri said that the composition of the draft ordinance by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) was running smoothly and is expected to be announced in the near future.
“The attorney-general will draft a proposal (of law) and present it to the National Security Council (special session). If the ordinance is agreed to, it will be presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Once approved by the King, it will become law,” he said, explaining the draft ordinance process.
The ordinance allows the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) to be revised to increase its effectiveness, including increased penalties for anyone who violates relevant laws and regulations and is valid during the emergency period only.
Ismail said the AGC was also reviewing the implementation of the law under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446) to provide accommodation for foreign workers in compliance with certain specifications.
“Many cases of COVID-19 are reported to occur among factory workers due to overcrowded housing issues and easy (transmission of) infections. The company wants big profits but the welfare of employees is not emphasised.
“Under this ordinance, we will probably issue conditions or instructions to provide comfortable housing and action will be taken if they (employers) fail to do so,” said Ismail.
The government has also required employers to ensure their foreign employees undergo screening tests beginning on 1 January as a way to curb the virus infection.
“So far, more than 100,000 foreign workers in the manufacturing sector have undergone screening, and the human resources ministry is targeting 880,000 foreign workers in this sector to undergo such tests,” he said.