Act 342 Amendments: Malaysians on the fence

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are on the fence on the amendments to Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

While many support the move, some are wary about the “effectiveness and efficiency” of its execution.

“Amendments to Act 342 are good but not in its current form. With such high fines, it opens too much room for abuse without the appropriate checks and balances,” Twitter user Ryan Ho said.

In agreeing with Ryan, Twitter user Tian warned that the RM1mil fine could have devastating effects on companies and establishments.

“It is just too high. It is as good as forcing their closure. There has to be some sort of balance,” he said.

Some also feared that it would be “illogical and overdone”.

“If this goes through, then our prisons will surely be crowded – not with criminals but regular rakyat who are unable to pay the illogical hefty fines,” a Twitter user with the name Cookiemonster said.

However, there were also many Malaysians on the other side of the spectrum who agreed with the move.

“It is a good initiative and reaction especially after the Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia incident,” Twitter user Nabil said.

“While the fines seem excessive, we must acknowledge that flouting SOPs is becoming common. With Omicron spreading fast, heavier fines are the only way,” user Ng Keong said.

In agreeing with Ng, Twitter user Mohd Mu’iz said that “something had to be done”.

“Looking at how relaxed everyone is about everything now, this had to be done. Despite everyone’s doubts, at the end of the day, Covid-19 is still around and people are not caring as much as they should,” he said.

Amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 will be tabled in Dewan Rakyat this coming Thursday (Dec 16) for a third reading, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“We need to amend the law as soon as possible to allow for continuity in the regulations that were used under the Emergency Ordinance and have been annulled.

“We are still at war against Covid-19 and still moving towards the endemic phase while facing new threats of emerging variants such as Omicron,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday (Dec 14).

Dr Noor Hisham noted that following the annulment of the Emergency Ordinances, health authorities were forced to rely on the present law, which was 32 years old and did not take into account changes in technology.