RM1,000 can’t fix this

That is not enough for inconveniencing an entire community, and more importantly, putting the lives of others in danger

pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE blanket compound for breaching the Recovery Movement Control Order’s (RMCO) standard operating procedures (SOPs) is RM1,000.

Some may think it is too hefty of a sum for offences such as not wearing face masks, wearing them incorrectly or not observing social distancing.

An MP in Sarawak even urged the government to revise the fine as those from the lower income group might not even have the money to buy face masks.

However, many would agree that it is too light of a punishment for returnees ignoring home quarantine orders.

The “it’s okay” or “wait-and-see” attitude cannot be applied when it comes to Covid-19 as the pandemic does not choose its victim’s age, race, religion, nationality or financial background.

The coronavirus is not a hoax and we are all at risk. We have seen pictures of some people out and about in public, brandishing the pink wristbands indicating they are under mandatory home quarantine orders like they are mere accessories.

This attitude, which received minor backlash from netizens before this, recently caused greater despair to an entire community when a foreign restaurant owner with a permanent resident (PR) status returned to Kedah from Sivagangga, India.

Initially tested negative at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s Covid-19 screening, he broke the Home Surveillance Order (HSO) to visit his business and after a follow-up screening, he was found positive for the virus and became the index case for the Sivagangga cluster.

To date, over 20 positive cases have been detected, including two children aged seven and 10, leading to the closure of five schools and the implementation of the Targeted Enhanced MCO (TEMCO) in Kedah’s Kubang Pasu district.

To make matters worse, close contact detections were made even more difficult as the restaurant had adopted neither the MySejahtera app nor manual registration and had not taken its patrons’ body temperatures before allowing them in.

Following this, the government has made MySejahtera check-ins compulsory for all premises, with many opining that this should have been done from the very beginning.

There are now six roadblocks in Kubang Pasu, manned around the clock by almost 100 police officers, and no outsiders are allowed into the area.

Markets have been ordered to remain closed until the end of the month, while essential services and businesses in the TEMCO area can only operate from 8am to 6pm.

Many businesses will be badly affected as we can all remember when the entire nation was put on a partial lockdown not too long ago.

There is surely fresh fear among parents for their children as although five schools in Kedah have been closed, the rest remains open and who knows what all the other children have been exposed to at home, especially those whose parents need to travel for work.

It is like the beginning of the pandemic again — tight restrictions and many uncertainties.

The only difference is we have had months on information and education on the do’s and don’ts. We are now quite adequately informed, compared to about five months ago.

Even those who have been away from the country cannot use ignorance as an excuse for flouting the SOPs as it is now a norm in almost every country to self-quarantine for 14 days, especially after travelling.

The only reason they can give is that of selfishness. They could not, for just 14 days, stay safely and comfortably at home.

Puzzlingly, many view the HSO as a punishment instead of a simple and harmless requirement that could potentially save hundreds of lives.

Revoke his PR status, send him away or at least impose a much heftier fine. These may seem extreme but no, RM1,000 is not enough for inconveniencing an entire community and the authorities, and more importantly, putting the lives of others in danger.


Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.