Carrot for ministers, stick for the people

Ever since MCO was introduced in March last year and the government started issuing compounds under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342), tens of thousands of people have been fined or jailed for flouting Covid-19 rules. A report in November showed that people have paid the Ministry of Health (MOH) about RM17.4 million in compounds, this is in addition to the 40,854 compounds issued by the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) which could amount to another RM40.9 million.

And now, the government is looking to increase the maximum compound from RM1,000 to RM10,000 citing the number of non-compliance cases recorded.

But is non-compliance really due to the inadequacy of the compounds or the lack of decent leadership by the un-elected government?

Since the beginning, the SOPs released by the Senior Minister of Defence, Ismail Sabri in his daily briefings has been unclear, confusing and not even well-thought out. Even enforcement officers are not clear of what the new SOPs are and some continue to issue compounds for outdated SOPs. People are constantly having to check to see what are the latest updates, what can and cannot be done and in the midst of this confusion, enforcement officers seem to be issuing compounds at their whim. There is no room for negotiations or discourse.

Except if you are a Perikatan National Minister or their allies.

In what should have been a clear case of breach of SOP by Federal Territories Minister, Annuar Musa, the police declared that they will need to refer his case to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). According to Section 25 of Act 342, the Director General or any public officer authorised by him may compound any offence under this Act. So what is the need to bring this specific incident to the AGC when regular people aren’t even given an opportunity to plead their case? For the man on the street, it’s immediately pay the fine or go to jail even if it is to buy essentials such as milk, diapers or medicine.

This is not the first, and it will not be the last case of blatant double standards. From Zahid Hamidi’s daughter to the Minister of Plantations Industries and Commodities, Mohd Khairuddin to Deputy Health Minister, Noor Azmi Ghazali, each and every one of them have been given leniency for their actions; even then action is only taken after a public outcry.

People have lost their jobs and livelihood and yet these are the people who are still forced to pay the RM1,000 compound. These are the very same people who will suffer if the compound is raised. Ministers who spend lavishly are given a ‘discount’. Not only is this unfair, it is clearly sending a message to the people that ‘you are inferior to us, therefore we can get away with anything’.

The PN government has clearly shown that because they are the unelected government, they are more inclined to protect their allies who can keep them in governing power rather than serve the people.

Rajiv Rishyakaran
Media statement by Rajiv Rishyakaran in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 19th February 2021