KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today acknowledged a “wrong” had been committed with the massive crowding at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre for the government’s “Keluarga Malaysia” event last week.
However, he said the government should not be faulted for the non-compliance of physical distancing rules, Malaysiakini reported.
“It is not fair to accuse the government of failing because it is the [organisers] who could not fulfil what was promised to us. But no matter what, a wrong is a wrong and the organisers should view this as a lesson for the future.
“We do not differentiate between the government, the private sector or NGOs [when it comes to violations] and we have to face the punishment,” Hishamuddin was quoted telling reporters in Parliament.
The four-day “Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia” event was to mark a report card by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on his government’s 100th days in office.
Hundreds of people attended the event, drawn by the government’s discount offer for traffic summonses. Many ignored physical distancing measures meant to curb the spread of Covid-19, resulting in public backlash against the government on social media.
As a result, the Health Ministry fined the event organiser, Shared Prosperity Delivery Unit (Sepadu), RM1,000 under the Prevention and Control Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
Sepadu has since defended itself, saying it had outlined a strict set of SOPs but argued that individual compliance is a challenge faced by every event organiser.
An amendment to Act 342 was also tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today, seeking to increase the maximum fine for SOP violations to RM10,000 for individuals and RM1 million for companies or agencies.
Hishammuddin who is also defence minister said he agreed that the RM1,000 fine now is insufficient to deter companies from taking the matter seriously.
“For example, when we talk about the 100-day report card event, there were some who said the RM1,000 fine was not appropriate as it was too little.
“This is why we want to amend the Act,” he was quoted saying.
The government had previously imposed a RM10,000 fine for individuals and RM50,000 for corporations under Emergency laws, which has since been repealed.
It is now proposing stiffer penalties after public outcry over paltry fines imposed and paid by political groups during the recent Melaka state election.