Man Claims Wrongly Fined Rm1 000 After Ignoring Plainclothes Officer S Hints
Teoh was out on a grocery run at Setapak Sentral on the evening of Oct 23. He had his mask on properly and had scanned the MySejahtera QR code with his phone before going inside a shop.
That's when four men, who claimed to be plainclothes police officers, approached him.
"I asked them what is going on? One of the officers accused me of wearing my mask lower than my nose.
"Another officer said they had a photo of me as evidence. But when I asked if I could see it, they just ignored me," he told Malaysiakini.
The 32-year-old, who declined to give his full name, claimed the officers refused to show their police identification when asked for it.
Instead, one of the officers repeatedly said, "Okay, we are about to issue summons now," as though hinting at something else.
After a few more "hints", Teoh was slapped with a RM1,000 fine for not wearing a mask properly - as required under Covid-19 enforcement SOPs.
He said he wasn't the only one to be approached and fined by the group.
Teoh is one of several individuals who have fallen victim to unclear SOPs and enforcement standards - which some believe opens the door for potential abuses of power.
Teoh has filed two police reports at the Setapak and Gombak district police headquarters, and with their help, obtained CCTV footage which he said proves his innocence.
However, the RM1,000 fine still hangs over his head.
Newspaper distributor Chow Tuck Choy was also slapped with a RM1,000 fine recently - which he also claimed was meted out unfairly.
The 50-year-old was issued a summons by the police for not checking-in on MySejahtera when he delivered newspapers to a coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur.
He believed scanning the QR code was not necessary for delivery workers making quick stops - and said the SOP on the matter was not clear to him.
"What I understood was that those who dine-in need to register, but I am a newspaper distributor.
“When I send the newspapers to the coffee shop, I can't just throw it outside. Some stall owners ask me to take it in.
"I thought I was just going in for one or two minutes, I am not there to eat or drink. The government's SOP is not very clear,” he told Malaysiakini.
He said he tried to talk his way out of the summons but only ended up getting the coffee shop owner fined too.
Chow, Teoh, and four others were earlier at a press conference held by Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng. They wanted to bring to light what the lawmaker believed to be uneven treatment by authorities towards regular citizens.
Lim said part of the problem was that the enforcement criteria or procedures were not clearly prescribed.
"We are a country under the rule of law, but we should also deal with it humanely.
“If it is necessary to enforce the law at this strict level, I would like to question whether the police officers and health department officials scan the QR code when they got into venues for inspection?"
"Is this a double standard? If a minister can skip the 14-day quarantine after coming back from a foreign country without being punished by law, why should we strictly fine a normal citizen who sells newspapers for a living?" asked Lim (photo).
He was referring to Plantations and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali, whose case of breaching quarantine was dropped, allegedly because he was not issued a form ordering him to undergo home quarantine.
Lim said Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador should set clear enforcement standards and procedures to prevent misconduct or abuse of power at the lower level of the police force.
“I do not rule out that there are some rotten apples in the barrel, who make use of the RM1,000 summons rule to threaten the public and ask for bribes" he added.
Lim has collected copies of what he claimed are unreasonable summons, which he will send to the IGP and ask for an internal probe on whether there was any abuse of power involved when the fines were issued.
"I suggest that police investigate whether the officers who signed those summons had issued a lot of fines on the same day.
“If yes, there is a big problem with their behavior. Why aren’t other officers issuing as many fines as them?” - Mkini
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