• Nur Syafiqah Abdullah

Almost 10,000 sign online petition against Act 342


16 Dec 2021

By Nur Syafiqah Abdullah


KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry’s proposed amendments to Act 342 that seeks to increase the maximum compound on individuals and corporate organisation who violate Covid-19 rules have received public backlash as seen via an online petition that saw almost 10,000 signatures.


The movement was started by the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) two days ago calling for the rejection of the 2021 amendment Bill of Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988). 


The petition mentioned that the enforcement seems double standard as those in politics always got away from the fines.


“Meanwhile, those imprisoned and sued are ordinary people. Even in PRN Sabah, how many politicians have been sued for spreading COVID nationwide?


“The SOPs were also very confusing - we were informed there would be guidelines for suits, however, when the government issues SOPs, enforcers (police, health officers, etc.) will be vague and confused.


“When the summons was issued blindly, ordinary people could not run away. Those who went to prison ended up being ordinary people who could not afford it,” it said.


It also mentioned that the punishments that are given are harsher than the offenses of kidnapping, attempted murder, causing deaths and many more criminal offenses.


“The vaccination rate of our country is already at a high rate. Why is the government exaggerating in punishing?


“The government must submit a framework of guidelines (SOP) regarding the enforcement of this amendment to the act to the people first before rushing to approve it,” it said.


As of 11pm today, the petition has garnered 9,529 signatures.


The Act 342 amendment Bill raises compounds of offences to up to RM10,000 for individuals and RM500,000 for businesses over Covid-19 infractions, such as not wearing face masks or not practising physical distancing. Compounds of offences under the existing Act 342 are limited to RM1,000 for all offenders.


The Bill also imposes general penalties upon conviction of up to three years’ in prison, a maximum RM50,000 fine, or both for individuals convicted under Act 342, while businesses face a maximum RM2 million fine.


The Act 342 amendment Bill was supposed to go through Parliament today, the last day of the current Dewan Rakyat meeting, before Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun announced an extension to the meeting by an additional day next week.


This supposedly allows the Bill to go through Parliament’s special select committee (PSC) on health, science and innovation first on Monday at 8am, just two hours before the Bill is debated and voted on in Dewan Rakyat. 


Earlier today, Khairy announced that Malaysia had detected a second imported Omicron case, while 18 others, unrelated to that case, are suspected to be infected with the Covid-19 variant.