Those who defy MCO may wind up in jail or fined, say lawyers

Malaysian Armed Forces and police personnel are seen at one of the roadblocks in Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Malaysian Armed Forces and police personnel are seen at one of the roadblocks in Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Those who fail to comply with the directives under the Movement control order, imposed from March 18 to 31 to contain the spread of Covid-19 may wind up in jail or paying fines.

Legal fraternity of the opinion that if the authorities find that it is to no avail to adopt a soft approach to ensure full compliance with the order, they should opt for more stern actions against those defiant by arresting and taking them to court.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the safety and health of the majority should be given priority ahead of the second week of the MCO period, hence the stricter approach.

“At times like this public interests take precedent over individual’s rights. Those who disobey the law, can be charged under Section 24 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

“Any person guilty of an offence under this Act shall, upon conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to fine or to both,” he said.

Malaysian Bar president, Salim Bashir urged the public to give their full cooperation to the authorities.

“The public must realise that it is a war against an invisible enemy, and we need to understand it and help to contain the pandemic. Any breach of this directives (MCO) is an offence which is punishable under Section 24 of the Act or regulations.

“However, since we are sailing in uncharted water, and due to a lot of uncertainties, I urge the authorities, to use softer approaches by giving warnings and advice, and adhere to the rule of law in dealing with offenders as well as to avoid arrests and prosecutions if possible, unless the situation warrants harsher measures to be taken,” he said.

Lawyer Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh said the police should arrest whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions to enforcing the MCO.

Hariharan added, those who voluntarily obstruct public servants from discharging their duties can be charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code, which provides an imprisonment for up to two years, or maximum fine of RM10,000, or both.

Today, a mechanic became the first person to be charged in connection with the MCO for obstructing a public servant from discharging his duty in enforcing the 14-day order.

S. Punniamurthy, 33, who pleaded guilty to the charge in the Magistrate’s Court, Sungai Siput was fined RM5,000, in default 10 months’ jail, for the offence.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, two men were sentenced to two months’ jail by the magistrate’s court for criminal intimidation against a police officer on duty during the execution of the MCO.

Shop assistant S. Sugendran, 31, and security guard M. Annblagan, 37, were both given the punishment after they pleaded guilty to the charge.

The order, among others, involves the closure of all government and private premises except for those providing essential services and all houses of worship and business premises except for supermarkets, wet markets, grocery shops and convenience stores selling daily necessities.

The government has also called on the public to stay at home and avoid going out during the order period to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the country. — Bernama

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