Govt to decide on reducing fine for face mask offence


THE government is expected to meet today to discuss the possibility of a tiered fine system for failure to wear face masks.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the Special Ministerial Meeting on the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) will meet to discuss the matter.

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) will take the suggestions to the Special Ministerial Meeting on the implementation of RMCO chaired by Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“There will be a meeting held tomorrow morning and all the suggestions by Bandar Kuching MP will be brought forward for consideration,” Dr Noor Azmi told the special chambers yesterday.

Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (Pakatan Harapan-Bandar Kuching) raised the motion under Order 18(1) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, calling for amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act to lower the fine for those not wearing face mask.

Dr Yii said his petition to urge the government to introduce a tiered system for the fine received the support of 114 MPs, including government backbenchers.

He believes that such a bipartisan approach would allow them to work together in a constructive manner. He also suggested for the amendment to be tabled next week in order for it to be passed this sitting.

“I have sufficient signatures for the amendment to be passed,” he highlighted.

Dr Noor Azmi said the government would rather not amend the law to lower the fine as such a move would be time-consuming since it is needed to be tabled in Parliament for approval.

“To me, the question on amending the law should never come up because every aspect of the Act depends on the dynamic of the situation. “Those who were penalised with the RM1,000 fine could appeal for a lower amount,” he added.

Beginning Aug 1, wearing a face mask, especially in crowded areas and places, as well as on public transport, has been made compulsory by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19.

With effect to that, most people can be said to abide by the latest regulation, or risk being slapped with a RM1,000 fine under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 if they are caught not wearing it.

Responding to Dr Yii’s question on the ambiguity of law including the definition of “crowded public places”, Dr Noor Azmi said it is referring to a place where social distancing of one meter cannot be adhered to, hence, wearing a face mask is compulsory.

“According to a study, wearing a face mask would prevent a person from contracting the virus by 60%.

“If you add physical distancing, it’ll be 65%, that is how important wearing a face mask is,” he added.