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TAIPING - Two labourers who breached the movement control order (MCO) in Sungai Siput, Perak, by going fishing to feed their families, had their three-month jail sentence overturned by the High Court here.
Chin Chee Wei, 45, and Chong Poh Wah, 56, were instead ordered to do community service for four hours daily for three months after the MCO is lifted.
The decision was made by Taiping High Court Judicial Commissioner K. Muniandy following an application to review the jail term, filed by their lawyer Balakrishna Balaravi Pillai.
The men were jailed on April 3 for three months by a Magistrate's Court in Sungai Siput after they pleaded guilty to the offence.
"This is a reminder to the public not to violate the order. Let this
be a lesson to everyone," said JC Muniandy yesterday.
He also ordered both men to report to the Sungai Siput district police station every Monday during the MCO period.
"They will then be placed under the Kuala Kangsar parole office after the MCO is lifted," he added.
There was a brief moment of confusion when the accused did not understand the judgment read out to them in Bahasa Malaysia by the court interpreter.
After a reporter was asked to translate it into Chinese for them, both men broke into big smiles.
Deputy Public Persecutor Mohd Azrul Faidz prosecuted.
According to the charge sheet, the duo had gone fishing at a pond in Rimba Panjang, near Sungai Siput, at 5pm on April 2 and were stopped by policemen.
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 (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.
Balakrishna said both men were first-time offenders and the offence was not serious enough to warrant a jail term.
"Both had to resort to fishing to feed their families as they had no income nor savings.
"Chin is married with two children while Chong is the sole breadwinner of the family," he said.
He added that both were doing odd jobs in Sungai Siput and were not fishing for trade.
The case has received widespread sympathy from social-media users who said the jail sentence was too harsh for the two men who simply wanted to put food on the table for their families.