JAN 17 2021
While everyone watches with astonishment how the health ministry announces new records of Coronavirus cases almost every day, most have overlooked the number of people being arrested by police for flouting the government’s lockdown rules. Yesterday alone, a disturbing 472 people had been arrested and 457 of them were fined, while 15 were remanded.
There’s no official statistics of the total number of people who have been arrested or slapped with compound fines since the outbreak started in January 2020. But using yesterday’s data and assuming an average 457 people are being fined on a daily basis, the government would have collected at least a jaw-dropping RM136 million since the first MCO lockdown on March 18, 2020.
On paper, it seems Malaysians are extremely stubborn, not to mention extraordinary rich as they don’t mind paying the RM1,000 fines for each offence committed. Senior Minister “turtle egg” Ismail Sabri Yaakob said among the offences were failure to wear face masks, crossing districts or states without permission and failure to provide materials for contact tracing or registration, among others.
Malaysia is arguably the only country in the world that has a long list of various types of MCO. Regardless whether it’s MCO, EMCO, Semi-EMCO, CMCO, RMCO, and whatnot, one thing is guaranteed – it’s a goldmine. The different types of lockdowns actually provide a cash-cow for the authorities, so much so it opens up a mouth-watering new avenue for corruption.
Yes, the sudden aggressiveness of the police – known for their corruption, incompetence and complacence – in nabbing people who disobey the directives of the movement control order has raised suspicions that some sort of commission-based systems were in place to reward them. There are so many types of offences that people could commit without them realizing it – until it’s too late.
Last month, Minister Ismail Sabri revealed that not wearing a face mask was the highest number of offences flouted. Unless you are ministers or families of ministers, you can be fined for wearing a mask not to the police liking. While ministers have the privilege to wear masks with their noses uncovered, ordinary folks will be immediately fined for doing the same.
In August last year, a teenager burst into tears after he was fined RM1,000 for pulling down his face mask to the chin while waiting for his train on a platform. The student apparently did so because it was itchy and he had only done so temporarily. But instead of giving a warning, the Royal Malaysia Police showed zero compassion and accused people of giving excuses.Those are news reported by the media. But how about unreported hidden cases where the authorities prey on people to meet their compound fines quota? Go get a can of Coke and some popcorn before we start some interesting stories of how the police use dirty tricks to penalise people. The Malays call them “hantu (ghost)”, a naughty word to describe spies or operatives.
The next time you step out of your home, it’s worth every penny to remember that the Muhyiddin regime has the eyes and ears on the ground. Operatives or spies are being deployed in your neighbourhood with the phone’s camera ready to snap photos or pictures of potential offenders. And if you are of Chinese ethnicity, your chances of getting snapped are even higher.
The wisdom behind targeting the Chinese community is obvious – they have the financial means to “settle” an offence in exchange for not issuing a compound ticket. At a posh restaurant, don’t try to step out without wearing a mask. Chances are it would be too late by the time you mask-up as the spies have already taken a photo of you not wearing it outside the restaurant.
And if you’re visiting a “Kopitiam (coffee shop)” or a normal Chinese restaurant, remember to flash your smartphone to register with the MySejahtera app first before proceeds to make your order or buy food. If you’re not lucky, the authorities will suddenly appear and demand to see your phone for the compulsory registration. Don’t think for a second that it’s hard to hit the jackpot.
There was a hilarious story where a restaurant patron “stood up”, ready to leave after his meal of “wanton mee”, only to be apprehended by authorities for not wearing a mask. It may sound ridiculous, but if you do not immediately mask-up right before you leave your dining table, chances are the spies would have snapped your photo already and you will be given a ticket.
Another case involved a man who wanted to throw rubbish late at night (before the current MCO lockdown). Thinking the rubbish dump was quite secluded with no people in sight, he stepped out of his car without wearing his mask. Out of nowhere, some policemen approached and threatened to issue him a compound. He was taken for a few rounds of rides in a police car to “negotiate”.
At the end, instead of the RM1,000 compounds, the man agreed to pay RM400 bribe demanded by the authorities to “forget the offence”. Interestingly, it was only last month (Dec 15, 2020) that Senior Minister Ismail Sabri said the wearing of face mask is only compulsory in crowded public places. Of course, if you do not have witnesses or proof, it would be the police words against yours.
Another offence often committed by ordinary folks is the failure to comply with physical distancing. But even if you obediently observe the 1-metre social distancing, the police have their own dirty tricks. A “hantu” will suddenly appear in front of you as if cutting your queue. Before you could do or say anything, photos would have been snapped from a distance away.
And voila, the photos giving an impression of you not observing the 1-metre physical distancing will be used to issue a RM1,000 fines – unless you’re willing to “negotiate”. As revealed by the turtle egg Ismail Sabri yesterday, the compliance task force teams normally conduct checks at supermarkets, restaurants, hawker stalls, factories, banks. Those are the authorities’ favourite places to prey on people