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Fined for Breaching SOPs? Feel That It Was Unjustified? Here’s How You Can Appeal

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For illustrative purposes | Source: Info Roadblock JPJ/Police & The Star

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With the Federal Government enforcing heavier punishment for offences pertaining to Covid-19 SOP breach, many Malaysians recently have complain about being compounded RM10,000 for even the slightest of offences. For example, there was a Malaysian in Perak who was compounded RM10,000 for wearing a face-mask under his chin.

Following the incident and various others that were similar, de facto Law Minsiter, Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan clarified that minor offences such as not wearing a face-mask properly should not incur a RM10,000 compound. On the contrary, it was supposed to be for repeat offenders or for serious offences of Covid-19 SOP breach.

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The emergency ordinance amendment to act 342.

With apparent confusion regarding the enforcement of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 [Act 342] which was recently amended by the Federal Government using an Emergency Ordinance, Takiyuddin alongside the Health Minister, Dato’ Sri Adham Baba finally laid out a proper guideline for compounding offences, which include:

  • First-time offenders and individuals who do not wear masks will be fined RM1,500.
  • Those who do not register themselves or use the MySejahtera app to check-in will be fined RM1,500.
  • Those who do not adhere to physical distancing will be fined RM1,500.

Furthermore, Takiyuddin also specified that if the compound is paid within a week, individuals will be entitled to a 50% discount and will only have to pay RM750. During the press conference, the Health Minister also added that since the RM10,000 fine was enforced on 11 March, not a single person has been able to afford the payment. Hence, they have decided to reduce the fine to RM1,500 accordingly.

Page 20

For illustrative purposes.

Well, what if you were fined but feel that the amount of compound is not justified? Worse, what if you were wrongly fined for an offence that you never commit?

Worry not as here’s a simple guideline on how to appeal the compound as well as details that you need to know about the Emergency Ordinance amendment to Act 342:

What is an offer to compound?

An offer to compound is an offer to pay a fine sum without going through prosecution in court. A compounding of offence is usually offered by enforcement bodies to encourage early settlement.

  • Example: For parking offences, local authorities offer a compound of RM100 for early settlement within 14 days. If the compound is not paid, the offender must pay RM200 if the prosecution was heard in court and the offender is found guilty.

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Who has the power to offer compounding of offences?

According to Section 25 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 [Act 342], those who have power to issue compounds include:

  • The Director-General (DG) of the Ministry of Health.
  • Officers given written authority by the DG.
  • A written approval by the Public Prosecutor is also needed.

 

What will happen if an offer to compound has been issued to me but the payment is not settled?

The enforcement body will assume that you have rejected the offer to compound. Your case will then be referred by the enforcing body to the State Public Prosecutor. The Deputy Public Prosecutor will the consider the facts of the case to determine whether to initiate court proceedings.

 

Can I appeal for a lower rate of compound?

You can send a letter of appeal attached with relevant documents to the District Health Ofice (PKD) to mitigate the compound value by clarifying the facts of the case.

Asserting possible mitigation factors such as below would also help:

  • Old age.
  • Lost of income.
  • Still studying.
  • Health issues.
  • First offence.
  • Family dependents or others.

 

I have been issued a summon without a valid reason. What can I do if I intend to dispute the compound given?

  • Check whether you have committed an SOP breach by referring to the relevant SOP.
  • If you find that the issuing of the compound is unreasonable, you can write a representation letter to the District Health Office to reconsider your case.
  • Supporting documents such as CCTV footage, MySejahtera scan receipt and photos can be attached with your application.
  • Don’t forget to produce two copies of the letter in order to get a receipt.

Here are two possible scenarios and what you need to do:

Scenario 1: I was at a restaurant and compounded for not wearing a face mask when eating, what should I do?

  • Take note of the time and place of the incident.
  • Procure the details of the enforcement officer such as name, name of police station/IPD politely and without a confrontational tone.
  • If permitted, procure the CCTV recording from the restaurant/premise which will usually be deleted within 7-10 days.
  • Then, produce a representation letter to PKD as soon as possible.

 

Scenario 2: I was on an LRT Station platform and removed my face mask to drink some water. Suddenly a police personnel came and issued me a compound for not wearing a face mask. What should I do?

  • Take note of the time and place of the incident.
  • Procure the details of the enforcement officer such as name, name of police station/IPD politely and without a confrontational tone.
  • Procure the details of other individuals that can be a potential witness.
  • If allowed, procure the CCTV footage of the LRT station to assist in your case.
  • You can also write a letter to the station management to keep a copy of the relevant CCTV footage.
  • Send a representation letter to PKD as soon as possible.

 

What will happen in court should I be charged?

Option 1: Plead guilty and appeal to the court to reduce the fine.

  • Even though Act 342 prescribes fine of up to RM50,000 and 6 months imprisonment, generally, the courts will only order the offender to pay the fine after weighing in the seriousness of the case and the condition of the offender.
  • According to the principle of law, the maximum punishment will only be given to the worst case imaginable. Furthermore, you can provide supporting documents to lighten the punishment.
  • If you are found guilty, you can be fined up to RM50,000 or imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both. No criminal conviction will be recorded.
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For illustrative purposes.

Option 2: Request for trial.

  • At this stage, you can still present a representation letter (without prejudice) to the Deputy Public Prosecutor to mitigate the amount of compound or to stop proceedings due to reasonable reasons.
  • The address for the Public Prosecutor Office can be found in the Attorney General Chambers website here:
  • If the prosecution still decides to pursue your case, they have the responsibility/burden of proof to prove the offence without a reasonable doubt by calling upon witnesses. You will be released should the court find that the prosecution have failed to make a prima facie case.
  • However, if a prima facie case is proven, you have to enter defence by issuing statements and producing evidences to raise reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case. You can still appeal for a mitigation of punishment if you are found guilty.

Do note that this is just a general guideline and should not be regarded as legal advice. Speaking of which, if you were to be compounded and require legal counsel, various political parties are offering free legal consultation, even political parties that makes up the Federal Government.

Remember to always adhere strictly to Covid-19 SOP so that your health and wallet are kept safe! The latest SOP can always be checked through the National Security Council (MKN)’s website or by following their Telegram account.

#KitaJagaKita #WeAreAllFrontliners.

Also read: Covid-19 SOP: MPs Compounded RM10k Won’t Be Disqualified From Parliament

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