According to Malay Mail, the government will be looking at imposing harsher penalties for companies that breach COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOP), including longer jail terms and increased fines from the current RM1,000 to a higher amount.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday (21 Jan), the existing RM1,000 was not deterrent enough, hence an increase of up to RM100,000 or even with jail time could be considered.
Ismail noted that there were cases involving entertainment outlets where they felt the RM1,000 fine was small, hence they had set aside the amount needed to pay the fines in advance before the authorities raid their premises.
He also highlighted that a company was issued a compound of only RM1,000 after its SOP breaches resulted in many of its factory workers being found to be COVID-19 positive which resulted in the temporary closure of the factory, and said that this had caused the public to be upset with the government.
“Many citizens were angry with us, because the fine is only RM1,000. But this cannot be avoided because the law already fixed it, Act 342 already provided RM1,000 only for fine,” he said, adding that this could be made into an Emergency Ordinance to ensure that Malaysians and companies comply with SOPs relating to COVID-19.
“We already have Act 446 (Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990), but the process to penalise them may take longer. Now we can draft an ordinance so that we can act quickly against such employers. During the state of emergency, we can come up with any ordinance related to COVID-19,” he added.
Other offences where fines could be raised would involve employers who refused to allow their foreign workers to undergo COVID-19 tests and failure to provide conducive lodging facilities for their workers.