SOP enforcement policies shouldn’t be punitive

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: While policies to enforce the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) are welcomed, they should be educational in spirit and not to punish offenders, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.

He said the policies introduced by the federal government thus far were oppressive and not fully thought out.

“They mentioned that they now recommend RM1,500 fine for not wearing mask, not scanning MySejahtera, no physical distancing, but the general fine is still RM10,000.

“On top of that, the poor, disabled and those with chronic diseases can appeal for reduction and provide proof to Health Ministry officers.

“This shows they did not think this policy through and only reacted due to the backlash on how oppressive this policy is,” he said in a Facebook post today.

Dr Yii said the move by the federal government to involve the Health Ministry was akin to pushing the responsibility to the Health Department and officers.

“The government should not be expecting Health Ministry officers to decide whether or not to reduce the compound as if they are judges who interpret the law.

“This is because the minister only ‘recommends’ and thus the discretion and decision still fall on the health officers, which can make the law ambiguous and unfair in certain cases.”

He said this also created additional unnecessary burden to health officers, who were already overstretched, overworked and in many cases, underappreciated.

“Now instead of purely focusing on the fight against Covid-19, the Health Department now has to deal with compounds issued by the police force.”

Dr Yii said with the Health Department involved in the enforcement, it could also cause crowds to show up at their offices to make appeals.

“At end of the day, policies that help compliance of SOPs are welcomed, but they must be educational in spirit, not punitive and more importantly, holistically address the issue without creating necessary burden to frontliners and the people.”