The Malaysian Bar has come forward to express their concern involving the high number of citizens that have been detained for breaking the MCO, say reports from Malay Mail.
According to the Bar, men with political influence are being sentenced differently as compared to common citizens.
“The Malaysian Bar is disturbed by accounts of excessive sentences and cases of disparity in sentencing between ordinary people and those with influence, in relation to persons who have violated the MCO.”
Recently, Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, and Perak executive councillor, Razman Zakaria were fined RM1,000 for violating the MCO. However, this sentence received heavy backlash from the public who brought up that those who were less fortunate were arrested and detained in prison for the same offence.
But this isn’t the only time political figures have received speacial treatment. Terengganu Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar and UMNO Chief, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said also escaped charges for breaching the MCO after the Attorney General’s Chambers instructed no further action into the case.
While president, Salim Bashir, said that some of these sentences are beyond the law, the disparity between what is charged on political figures and normal citizens needs to be addressed immediately in order to avoid complications of injustice.
“We acknowledge that the range of sentences handed down may well be within the ambit of the law, but the power of the Court to hand down sentences must be exercised judiciously in order to avoid any travesty of justice.”
Salim urged the courts to act compassionately as these offences are not of criminal nature. Instead, they should prioritise efforts to reform rule breakers. He added that the government has not specified how many of the reported 20,011 MCO violators have been jailed, warning that those in prisons could spread the virus just as well.
“Incarcerating someone in a crowded place will make it more difficult to contain the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. While violating the MCO should not be taken lightly, sending violators to jail is a cure that is worse than the disease.”
“The Courts must administer justice with compassion and give due consideration to all mitigating factors that gave rise to the offence. It is justice that we must pursue and not simply punishment,” added Salim.
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