Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaysian gov’t criticised over fine for crowded event



Malaysian gov’t criticised over fine for crowded event

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob attends the 100-Day Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia programme at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre last Thursday. BERNAMA

Malaysian gov’t criticised over fine for crowded event

Malaysia’s government has again been accused of double standards in enforcing Covid-19 curbs, after an event it organised flouted safety protocols but attracted only a fine of 1,000 ringgit ($238).

The four-day event at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre was launched by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on December 9 and held to mark his government’s achievements in its first 100 days.

According to the Chief Secretary to the government Zuki Ali, over 100,000 people have thronged the gathering.

Critics from across the political divide as well as civil society compared the penalty with the fines of up to 20,000 ringgit levied during last month’s Melaka state polls where physical campaigning was barred, and the millions imposed on illegal parties in the capital.

“Is pushing up the number of Covid-19 cases part of the KPI [key performance index] for the next 100 days?” said Malaysian Medical Association president Koh Kar Chai.

Opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang also pilloried the “chicken-feed” fine which he said “highlights the total lack of seriousness” of the government in fighting the pandemic.

Infection levels have generally stayed above 4,000 cases daily for the past seven months. On December 12, new cases dipped to 3,490, the first time they have fallen under 4,000 since May.

“And yet, Ismail Sabri could give a score of 90 per cent for the Cabinet’s 100-day performance, making Malaysia the new target of world jokes and humiliation,” said Lim, who is a member of Parliament for Iskandar Puteri.

Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has criticised the unit in the Prime Minister’s Department that organised the event, noting the “congested situation, lack of physical distancing and poor crowd control increased the risk of Covid-19 spreading”.

“The event . . . was tarnished by the organiser’s failure to ensure SOP [standard operations procedures] adherence. As the government, we should be examples of best practices,” Khairy said, referring to standard operating procedures.

Nevertheless, he pointed out in a statement on December 10 that his ministry no longer had the power to issue fines exceeding 1,000 ringgit each. This was due to the revocation of emergency ordinances in Parliament just the day before the event.

The state of emergency was imposed from January to August by former premier Muhyiddin Yassin, under whom Ismail Sabri served as a senior minister and then deputy prime minister.

However, police had raided a Kuala Lumpur nightclub on the night of December 9 and issued a total of 245,000 ringgit in fines, including a 25,000 ringgit fine on the owner of the premises.

In a live appearance on national television on the night of December 12 to address the growing controversy, Khairy announced plans to increase maximum fines under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act to 10,000 ringgit for individuals, and two million ringgit for organisations.

“Our [government’s] credibility has been eroded. I’m aware the public is angry . . . we apologise for what happened and the government will learn. Don’t let our mistake cause you to stop observing SOPs,” Khairy said.

An aide to the health minister responded to queries on that penalty, saying “enforcement action and compounds issued are by the police. You may check with them”.

THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro