A group of villagers on their way to the town of Tenom to get food and medicine were fined RM1,000 each by police after they were found breaching the Movement Control Order.
The eight villagers, including a senior citizen, were on a bus that was carrying more than 50% of the passenger limit. They were arrested and brought to Tenom police headquarters and fined on 27 January, FMT reported.
The villagers, who came from the interior district said their offence wasn’t intentional, especially since their homes are far away from Tenom which makes it difficult to get their essential supplies.
One villager named Irip Pang said she made the trip to get supplies for her granddaughter who is young and disabled. She said,
“I didn’t come here to go gallivanting, I wanted to buy necessities – milk and diapers – for my grandchild.”
Irip said, “No one else can take care of my grandchild because her mother has passed away, while my husband is too old and can’t go out.”
Another villager who was on the bus, Buriat Alipan, said he was forced to head to town that day because he had to buy medicine for his leg that was hurting as well as to get food supplies. He said,
“Police said it’s MCO, but how can I not go (to Tenom)? I want to buy medicine because my leg is in pain until now, that’s why I had to go. We’re villagers, needy people. We don’t intentionally commit offences, we’re not going out for fun.”
The bus driver, Ruil Taligi, was reluctant at first to bring the villagers on board since it would exceed the 50% limit of the bus’s original 13-pax capacity. However, he felt sorry for them since some really needed to get to town. Taligi said,
“Police told me I exceeded the load limit. I already told them (the passengers) but they still wanted to come on board, and I felt pity for them. I begged the police on duty at the roadblock to let us off with a warning or to just fine me alone and not the passengers because they’re poor people and only wanted to buy essentials.”
Despite that, Taligi said the officer still instructed all of them to go to the district police headquarters.
People on social media have come together to crowdfund and aid the villagers who got fine. In a Twitter thread started by user, @LinaKlasik, more than RM3,000 have been raised as of now. Click here to read the thread.