Covid-19: Don’t cripple Health Ministry by blocking Act 342 amendments, says Khairy

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at press conference after a ceremony for handing over the proposed project for building Hospital Baharu Sri Aman Phase 2, Sarawak, December 15, 2021. — Bernama pic
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at press conference after a ceremony for handing over the proposed project for building Hospital Baharu Sri Aman Phase 2, Sarawak, December 15, 2021. — Bernama pic

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SRI AMAN, Dec 15 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has urged all Members of Parliament (MPs) to support the bill to amend the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) as the amendments could strengthen the government’s arsenal in the fight against Covid-19.

Khairy said he had briefed MPs on Monday regarding the guidelines and conditions which needed to be fulfilled before the proposed enhanced penalties could be meted out for violation of Covid-19 prevention standard operating procedure (SOP).

The guidelines would protect the people from being slapped with unjust compounds for violating the SOP, he said.

“Surely we are not going to issue a RM10,000 compound against someone for not wearing a face mask,” he said.

Khairy said the existing law was not effective in curbing the spread of Covid-19 because even factories which contributed to clusters could be fined a maximum of RM1,000 only although their revenue might run into billions.

“So, I would say MPs should not block the amendments as this will cripple the Health Ministry. We are fine-tuning the guidelines, and I have told all MPs including from the opposition that I will bring the guidelines to the Select Committee,” he said.

Khairy said this at a press conference after a ceremony for handing over the proposed project for building Hospital Baharu Sri Aman Phase 2 which was also attended by Senior Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof here today.

The project is divided into two phases, with phase one involving land treatment works at a cost of RM8 million while phase two is on building works for the new hospital, quarters and support buildings at a current contract cost of RM181.4 million.

Khairy also rejected opposition claims that the proposed amendments were punitive in nature.

“We have guidelines to prevent abuse of power. I am appealing for the amendments to be passed at this sitting. Tomorrow is the last day and if we wait until March next year, we don’t know what will happen in the next two months with the emergence of Omicron and the like.

“Being punitive is the last resort but we need to have weapons to face this pandemic. We have done our bit with vaccination, early measures, SOP and control but what about the question of fine?” he added.

The bill, tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, proposes a maximum RM1 million fine on companies and organisations and up to RM10,000 on individuals who flout the SOP. — Bernama

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