With the movement control order (MCO) having gone on for nearly a month (and set to move into Phase 3 from Wednesday until April 28), you’d expect that public compliance to be high, and the number of violators, to be on a downward trend. However, the opposite is true, at least where daily arrest rates are concerned.

It might be that the police is coming down harder on MCO violations, but it also shows that people are willing to risk detention and pay a RM1,000 fine just for the chance to be out and about, and without valid reason.

On Saturday, the cops detained 1,220 individuals for a variety of MCO-related offences, slapping 854 of them with the RM1k compound fine. Of the remainder, 345 were remanded, while 21 were allowed to post bail, senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob revealed in his daily non-health press briefing yesterday.

The number of people who were penalised increased from Friday, when 815 compound notices were issued. He said that 2,156 people have been fined since the move to issue the compound notices began on April 8. The question of whether the fine amount was too low was again brought up during the post-briefing Q&A session, to which Ismail Sabri explained the reason why the rate had not been increased.

“{For the penalty being) too low, it’s true, and a lot of people wonder why it is so low. While the matter is being discussed, it is bound by the act (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988), and it is clearly defined that the penalty is RM1,000. If we want to amend that, then it has to be brought to parliament, so as it stands, the compound rate remains,” he said.

“The police, however, has a choice whether to issue a compound or take the matter to court. If it is brought to court, as I mentioned before, then there is the possibility of a jail term, but that has to be meted out by the court. It is up to the police to use its judgement. If it is something minor, then a compound may suffice, but if a case needs to be brought to court, then it will be brought to court,” he added.

He believed that as it goes along, more violators will be brought to court, but stressed that such cases would involve violations chargeable under the Penal Code, such as when preventing or impeding a person of authority from carrying out his/her duties.

A total of 783 roadblocks were carried out nationwide on Saturday, and the police and army inspected 435,361 vehicles. On Friday, a total of 490,249 vehicles were inspected at 779 roadblocks across the country. That’s plenty of vehicles, and surely not everyone is on essential services runs.

Reports of bad excuses and those being detained and fined continue to pepper the daily news feed, but one report from the weekend stands out, that of an entire family being slapped with compound notices at one go. In Sabak Bernam, a family of six was collectively fined RM6,000 for breaching the MCO, the New Straits Times reports.

The car they were in was stopped by police, and the explanation given was that they were heading to the supermarket to do grocery shopping. Bet they’ll remember this shopping trip, for all the wrong reasons. Now, if you don’t want to pay a hefty sum for groceries you won’t get, just stay home and stay safe, folks. If you really need to go grab essentials, keep to the 10 km distance limit, remember the one-person-per-car rule, and keep utility bills in the car as proof of residence

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