Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dewan Rakyat to sit for extra day to decide on infectious diseases bill

The current sitting was originally scheduled to end today.

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Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has agreed for the Dewan Rakyat to sit for another day on Monday to discuss and decide on amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 or Act 342, speaker Azhar Harun said today.

“The addition of one, two or 20 days is under the authority of the head of council, that is the prime minister,” he said.

“The prime minister as the head of council has used his discretion to add another day according to the present needs.”

The current sitting was scheduled to end today after continuing for 32 days since Oct 25.

The amendments to Act 342, contained in the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Bill 2021, were expected to be the focus of the Dewan Rakyat session today.

The proposed amendments include increasing the maximum amount of compound to be issued to individuals and companies violating Covid-19 health SOPs.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the second and third readings of the bill would be postponed to Monday.

Bernama reported that Azhar’s announcement was questioned by several MPs including Mahfuz Omar (PH-Pokok Sena) who said the decision had disrupted the programmes of MPs.

“We MPs have lined up our own programmes, personal activities as well as programmes to meet people in our constituency. It is regrettable to be caught by this sudden announcement. Why can’t we defer the bill to the next session?” he said.

However, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) said the postponement of the debate on the bill was not a unilateral decision as it had been discussed and agreed to by several parties since this morning.

“There was an engagement process until afternoon involving the health minister, health director-general and party leaders. Then it was referred to the prime minister on the need to postpone to give room for discussion with all quarters.

“This is so that the select committee can meet before submitting several other proposed amendments. This is because of our view that several provisions should be amended in total especially regarding compounds,” he said.

According to the bill, individuals who commit offences can be compounded up to RM10,000 compared to RM1,000 now while corporate bodies can be penalised up to RM1 million for violating the law.

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