Following public backlash, the Malaysian government has introduced discounts for individuals and companies that were fined for violating COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) if they pay within a certain period of time.
Minister for Parliament and Law in the Prime Minister’s Department, Takiyuddin Hassan, in a joint press conference with Health Minister Adham Baba on Wednesday (17 Mar) said: “Those who were fined can get a 50 per cent discount on their compounds if they pay within seven days. If they pay between eight and fourteen days after they were fined, they are eligible for a 25 per cent discount,” he said.
He emphasised there will not be any discounts for those who settle their fines after 14 days.
Starting 11 Mar, the maximum compound for those who violate standard operating procedures of the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been increased from RM1,000 to RM10,000.
The move was in accordance with the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which was gazetted on 25 February.
However, Takiyuddin said the offences under Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) will be classified into three categories based on the severity of the violation.
The most severe offences will be placed under Category One, which includes those that involve a high transmission risk of the virus, which leads to a large-scale impact on the community such as entering a pub or nightclub.
Individuals who violate rules under this category will be liable to a maximum fine of RM10,000 while companies that operate the pub or nightclub will face a maximum fine of RM50,000.
Offences under Category Two involve a high transmission risk of the virus, but would not lead to a wide-scale impact to the community such as entering an enhanced movement control area without permission, or refusal to give information concerning the prevention of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, offences under Category Three include failure to wear masks, failure to record personal details before entering premises, and failure to maintain physical distancing.
Those who commit such offences will face a fine of RM1,500, while premises owners operating outside of the allowed hours may be fined a total of RM10,000.
Takiyuddin said a detailed list of offences and their accompanying fines will be made available on the National Security Council and health ministry websites soon.
He also clarified that those who faced serious problems in paying off their compounds are able to make an appeal to health officers for a reduction.
Netizens on Facebook said giving discounts is not enough, as the sum of half of RM10,000 is still too much for the people — especially those from low-income backgrounds — to pay.
They said RM5,000 is still high for most people, as many are struggling financially during the pandemic.