KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — All 42 DAP MPs have voiced their support for a petition to call for a reduction of the face mask fine that is currently set at RM1,000.
The petition, led by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and Kluang MP Wong Shu Qi, is urging the government to reduce the fine to RM250 and also for the law to be equally enforced on public figures and not just ordinary people.
In a statement today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said if a rich minister is only fined RM250 for violating a smoking ban, why shouldn’t the general public be fined the same amount for not wearing face masks?
“The petition states that a fine of RM1,000 is equivalent to 83 per cent of the minimum wage in Malaysia which is RM1,200 per month.
“Compared to the situation in Australia where the fine for the same offence is A$200 (RM600), which is only 6.7 per cent of their minimum wage of A$3,015 (RM9,067) per month, clearly here, RM1,000 is too high for the poor,” he said.
He added that while he is aware and agrees with the government’s intention to protect public health and safety from the Covid-19 pandemic, any form of enforcement and fines should be appropriate, especially for the B40 group.
“When there are many pictures of a senior minister without a face mask not being fined, this raises an oblique view that there is selective prosecution. This discrepancy should be corrected immediately,” he said.
Lim was referring to a recent incident where Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was caught on video using his vaping device while the Dewan Rakyat was in session.
He also commended Perikatan Nasional MPs who supported the petition.
Last week, Dr Yii and Wong launched a bi-partisan petition asking the government to amend the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 to reduce the RM1,000 fine for those caught not wearing face masks in public places.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Dr Yii said he had also submitted a Section 18 motion to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to hasten a decision on the matter as it is urgent, specific and involves the importance of the general public.
Dr Yii’s proposal includes the introduction of a tiered fine system, where first-time offenders get fined RM250, and repeat offenders will receive a higher fine.
He added that the ambiguity of law including the definition of “crowded public places” also opens up the possibility of arbitrary enforcement, and even selective enforcement.