Two labourers who were sentenced to three-month jail by Sungai Siput Magistrate’s Court after they were caught fishing during the movement control order (MCO) to feed their families, were ordered to perform community service by the High Court today.
High Court Justice Muniandy Kannyappan meted out the alternative punishment after lawyer Balakrishna Balaravi Pillai from the National Legal Aid Foundation sought for revision of the Magistrate’s Court’s decision.
In accordance with the provisions of the Offenders Compulsory Attendance Act 1954, both Chin Chee Wei, 45, and Chong Poh Wah, 56, were required to report to the Parole Department in Kuala Kangsar which will determine the type of community service to be performed for four hours a day over a three-month period.
(L) Chong Poh Wah and Chin Chee Wei.
However, the punishment will be only carried out after the MCO.
Until then, the duo has to report to the Sungai Siput Police District Headquarters every Monday.
The court also sought help from an ethnic Chinese reporter to interpret the judgment to Chin and Chong, as no Mandarin interpreter were available during the time of the proceeding.
Last Friday, the duo was sentenced and sent to Tapah Prison after pleading guilty to the offence before Magistrate Norhabsarina Ayob when they were charged at the Sungai Siput Magistrate’s Court.
According to the charge sheet, both Chin and Chong, who were on a motorcycle, had gone to a pond in Rimba Panjang in Sungai Siput on April 2 at 5pm and were stopped by policemen, who were patrolling.
They were unable to provide a valid reason for being there and were arrested under Section 269 of the Penal Code and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations.
Both Chin and Chong were charged under Rule 3(1) the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, which carries a RM1,000 or imprisonment not more than six months or both.
Earlier, Balakrishna submitted that prison should be the last option as there were alternative punishments available for the offence committed
“Even though they did not comply to the MCO and went to fish, but they have a valid reason to do so, which is to provide food for their families.
“So prison should be the last option and alternative punishment such as community service should be considered,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Azrul Faidz requested for a sentence that could educate the public so that there will be proper compliance with MCO.
“We pray for a sentence that could strike the balance between the public interest and also the interest of the accused,” he said.
Justice Muniandy then meted out the alternative punishment and ordered both Chin and Chong to perform community service.
Both Chin and Chong, when met outside the court, said that they are happy that they have escaped the jail punishment and promised that will not repeat the offence again.
“We will also report to the Sungai Siput Police District Headquarters every Monday until MCO is over as per instructed.
“And we will not go out if it is not necessary. We thank everyone who helped us,” he said. – MMO