KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is urging the government to revise the blanket RM1,000 fine imposed on offenders for not wearing face masks in public places in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Yii said the RM1,000 fine is too high especially for the lower income group.
Not only they may not be able to afford to pay up the fine, they may not even have enough to buy face masks in the first place, he argued.
“To me the RM1,000 fine for not wearing face masks in public places is too high especially for the lower income group who may forget to wear their face masks. They may not know of the policy or standard operating procedures (SOP).
“If we look at Victoria, Australia, their fine for an offender is A$200, which is about 6.7 per cent of Australia’s minimum income. Whereas in Malaysia, RM1,000 is about 83 per cent of the RM1,200 minimum wage.
“This is not fair considering our principle is to educate, not just to punish,” Dr Yii said in his debate on the motion of thanks for the royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during the Dewan Rakyat sitting this morning.
He suggested for the government to impose fines in stages, where first time offenders may be fined between RM200 and RM300, with the fine escalating for repeat offenders.
He said if the fine is too high as it is now, this may also open up opportunity for corruption among the enforcers.
Dr Yii also suggested for the government look into ways to provide accessibility to face masks and the use of reusable masks like what is being implemented in Singapore.
He said on Australia’s government official website, they even have a video showing how the public can make their own fabric masks at home.
On a related topic, Dr Yii also urged the government to clarify on the mandatory face mask policy especially on the definition of “public places”.
He said some of his constituents were confused on what is considered as public places because there have been no specifics gazetted or listed in any official government websites or publications.
“What was announced by the minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri) was very general, like public transportation, markets, shopping malls and other public places.
“This definition is too general and is causing confusion. If we look at the model in Australian, their government listed all the places that face masks are needed to be worn, including some exemptions,” said Yii.