1. I don’t think anyone is surprised about police admission that they too were thoroughly confused when enforcing the ever changing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) from the various movement control orders since last year.
2. Bukit Aman Department of Internal Security and Public Order (JKDNKA) director Datuk Seri Abd Rahim Jaafar was candid enough to admit that the 100,000 odd policemen as well as enforcers from other agencies had varying interpretations of the SOPs.
3. This, he acknowledged, had led to issuance of compound notices which has caused great dissatisfaction among Malaysians.
4. He has gone on to say that the police are “in the process of educating officers regarding the SOPs” during this MCO. “We are trying to mend this situation but while we’re at it, new SOPs are added based on the Covid-19 situation,” he was quoted as saying.
5. I seriously cannot blame the police for the confusion their enforcement teams are facing. However, this does not absolve them from the mistakes which were made.
6. Notable among such cases included the poor villagers who were issued summonses while travelling in a rural area in a bus, a man who was fined just for sitting by the swimming pool area and a woman who was compounded for not wearing a mask immediately after she had just stepped out of her car even though there was no one around her.
7. In the woman’s case, which happened in Johor, the policemen who issued the compound were even proven to have lied when the woman produced a CCTV recording to show that there was no one around her when she was issued the compound notice.
8. Last year, there was also a viral voice clip of a man claiming his father was fined RM1,000 for failing to register with the MySejahtera app before filling up at a fuel pump despite wearing a face mask. The police insisted this was correct, but the National Security Council then clarified that registration was not necessary if a patron does not enter a fuel station’s store, toilet or prayer room.
9. In light of all these issues, I urge the government to consider refunding all those who had been fined for allegedly flouting the Cocid-19 SOPs. If this is too difficult or impossible to do, then police should be directed to immediately cancel all notices issued to those who have yet to pay up.
10. The people cannot, and must not be arbitrarily punished with hefty RM1,000 fines when the enforcers themselves are unclear of the rules.
11. I can say without doubt that the feeling among Malaysians is fast turning into an uncontrollable rage in the light of hardships they are facing during the Covid 19 pandemic and this is just being flamed further by unnecessary fines imposed on them.
12. There is no way to justify punishing someone when the enforcers themselves cannot be sure if an offence has been committed.