KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today conceded that one of the advantages the government would enjoy during the state of Emergency is being able to amend laws faster through the issuing of Ordinances instead.
He said this was especially crucial when it concerned the government’s intention to increase the amount of compounds and fines issued to those found breaching movement control order (MCO) standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The defence minister explained that even though the government was on the same page with many who urged higher fines be imposed for SOP breachers, amending the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) previously would need the approval of Parliament and require much time.
Ismail Sabri said this mainly concerned higher fines being called for establishments and companies found breaking MCO regulations, now subject to a maximum RM1,000 penalty, like factories with poor preventive measures and nightclubs operating despite being barred.
“These big companies can pay the RM1,000 just like that, no issue, because that is the maximum fine we can enforce under Act 342 and we cannot change it to RM10,000, or RM5,000, or RM3,000 because all these amendments to the Act needs to go through Parliament and it needs a lot of time.
“However, with the declaration of an Emergency, we can make these Ordinances and set the price of these fines for those breaking SOPs; for me, if it’s a RM1,000 fine every night for these nightclubs, they can pay for it every night because the profit they make is way more than the RM1,000 fine.
“Now we can decide if we want to increase the fines, or say impose jail sentences so we can reduce the breaches of SOPs; this is the advantage when an Emergency is declared,” he said during his non-health press conference this evening.
The state of the Emergency, declared this morning under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, allows for Ordinances to be proclaimed by the King.
These Ordinances carry the same weight as Act passed through the Parliament and remain effective until withdrawn by the King or annulled by Parliament.
Additionally, Ismail today said the Emergency was declared with the intention to empower the Armed Forces to carry out arrests of equivalent authority as the police, especially during their border patrol operations.
“Under the new Ordinances, it can give power to the military in these border operations to make arrests, same to those made by police.
“These are among the steps which would have otherwise been difficult to execute, but with the Emergency declaration, what was difficult before can be done and we believe it can help us to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the country,” he added.