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Authorities should not strictly enforce its lockdown restrictions on dining out for e-hailing riders who continue to work amid the Movement Control Order, urged Hannah Yeoh today, after several complained to her about being fined. 

Yeoh, 42, who is an opposition member of parliament, said online today that six e-hailing delivery riders had complained to her about being fined an unspecified amount after they were caught eating at an open field in two different locations. Due to their small income, they struggle to pay off the fines, she claimed. 

“Maybe a warning or reminding people on guidelines and appropriate [standard operating procedures] would be more considerate compared to giving compounds,” she wrote, adding: “We want to fight COVID-19, but this has to be done while educating and considering the groups who struggle and work hard to earn an honest living.”

Yeoh did not reveal the amount of the fines or where those riders were caught eating. Job listings for such riders mentioned monthly salaries worth RM 1,700 (US$400).

Since Tuesday, Malaysians nationwide have been banned from dining out as part of total lockdown restrictions with violators facing fines that could go into the thousands. But some have pointed out that this rule is unclear. 

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress recently said that the way it has been enforced is confusing for both workers and even enforcers themselves, adding that while the government can release blanket instructions, it must be detailed enough so that people can at least be clear on where workers can or cannot eat. 

On Tuesday, non-governmental organization Project Justice For All said they were alerted to five similar cases involving workers, including delivery riders. One of them involved an employee who was dining at the eatery in Kajang where the person was working, causing the shop owner to be slapped with a RM 1,500 fine. 

The NGO also called for the National Security Council to clarify its procedures for employees eating at their workplace, outdoors, or in their own vehicles to avoid being fined unfairly, and to ensure the “no dine-in” only applies to customers.

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This article, Hannah Yeoh urges authorities to relax vague dining out rules on delivery riders, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.


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