By K Veeriah
AS the people are struggling to put food on the table, our political leaders have found it fit to penalise them for COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) breaches with exorbitant fines.
The fact that the Government had decided on such ludicrous penalty, speaks volumes of its disconnect to the plight of the ordinary citizens.
Where pay cuts, job losses, income deprivation in the informal sector of the economy is the reality, it defies comprehension for the Government to subject the economically deprived citizenry with punitive measures of up to RM10,000 in fines.
Given the fact that the vast majority of our citizens are entrapped in the low- and middle-income wage levels (the M40 and B40), it would have been expected of the Government to have adopted an educational approach as opposed to a punitive imposition of massive fines.
As I have stated, hereinbefore, the Government’s action only stands as testimony to its lack of insensitivity to the plight of the ordinary citizens!
That, being the case, we would have justifiably expected the Government to deregulate such exorbitant fines. Sadly, that was not the case.
On the contrary, the penalty of RM10,000 remains with a proviso that there would be “discounts” for any violation of the COVID-19 SOPs.
The jurisdiction, to decide on such “discounts”, has been delegated to the “napoleons” in the chain of authority. In the absence of a structured scale of equitable rates of penalties, one would be left at the mercy of such “napoleons” who would sit in judgement of one’s purported breach of the SOPs – a situation that could lead to unwarranted claims of unfairness in the said process.
Though the Government has announced a scale of fines, the minimum of RM1,500 is still beyond the financial capacity of the middle- and low-income wage earners – with the national minimum wage being RM1,200 per month.
In consideration of the matters set-out, I call upon the Government to reconsider its decision to impose such inequitable penalties. Please consider the economic plight of the vast majority of the people.
Take into consideration the fact that our nation, thanks to the exemplary sacrifices of our frontliners and the civic adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines, has managed to arrest the pandemic remarkably well and, as such, the need to impose unfair punitive measures should not be the priority. – March 20, 2021.
K Veeriah is a veteran unionist and contributor to FocusM
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.